Sunday, June 19, 2011

Royal Ascot, England

Off the Eurostar then fast down to Waterloo. Waterloo Station has become enchanted, throngs of finely dressed people buzz with excitement. Top-hats everywhere, like something from another time or Harry Potter. Another train to Ascot is leaving a surge onto the train where champagne is already flowing. The train is crushed impossible to move your arms, horribly hot but everyone is laughing, fragile ladies hats are protected, they are giggling. Pass fast through London suburbs then open English fields. At Ascot we are thousands moving through the station, and there is no one who isn't smiling. A torrential downpour arrive s from nowhere but it is just more amusement as all run squealing for cover. The racecourse is magnificent under a wild bright sky. We are so warmly received, drinks, the queen arrives in her carriage the stadium erupts.
Good food is served endlessly and the first race, frantic calls are made for tips, no source is too spurious. The afternoon passes so quickly and on the last race win almost 300 pounds, it is a magical and unreal end. We all drift, drinks in hand, hats at a more relaxed angle, lazily, contentedly from the stadium. And near the gates we realize the great singing has begun around the bandstand. Everyone is together flags have appeared, everyone is singing, everyone is together.

Never in my life have I seen such a vast mass of people all so utterly and completely joyous. And I feel so proud of this sceptered isle.