Heading For Henley – Pt. One ‘Men In Lycra’

cal-logoI’m keeping a promise to number one grandson and heading for Henley in a few days time. He’s a rower, you see, and damned good at it too. So good, in fact, that University of California Berkeley offered him a scholarship if only he would please go and row for them. On a pre-semester visit he was taken on a tour of the facilities by the coach and then introduced to his own personal trainer! When I heard that it blew my head – the parallels with my own modest career were uncanny.  At his age I too had a ‘personal trainer’ by the name of Sergeant Danny ‘The Beast’ Haddon. Unlike my grandson’s trainer, Danny was well known for extracting many a pound of flesh and searing himself into the psyche of young Private soldiers! He was also a fine marksman with the Stirling sub-machine gun winning a number of trophies with 3 Para Shooting Team.

3para shooting


Danny is the hulking brute with ‘piggy’ eyes front row extreme right

Anyway, back to this Henley business. Those who know me will be well aware that in the sartorial elegance stakes my reputation has declined somewhat. These days ‘shapeless’ and ‘comfortable’ define my style (or ‘You are not going out looking like that!’ if you listen to J!). So it came as a bit of a wake-up call when Number 1 Daughter informed me that we would be visiting the Royal Enclosure at certain times and that I needed decent shoes, trousers, shirt, tie in club colours (try buying that in Ortaca), and a blazer.

Charles_TyrwhittI was not phased – when we came here 16 years ago I brought everything, and I do mean everything! True to my hoarding instincts I kept the lot – in my wardrobe there are two business suits, full evening dress, hand-made shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt, and many pairs of well cut trousers. None of them fit me any more but they are much too nice to give or throw away! There are also things like hand-made shoes, silk ties and silk cuff-links – I just knew that one day I’d regain my youthful girth or, as in this case, that somehow I’d find something that would get me past the men-in-dark-glasses guarding the entrance of the Nob’s Enclosure without my having to visit the Oxfam shop in Henley High Street.



Henley – where you can look like a total ‘Knob’ and not feel out of place (

 In the wardrobe there were winners and losers – the beautiful hand-made shoes proved to be well dried out and showing cracks in places, so loafers it is; fortunately the blazer is double-breasted and so doesn’t need to be buttoned up; the hand-made shirts are an excellent fit apart from the top button (a Windsor knot will solve that); the tie in Beşiktaş colours will do fine and the silk cuff-links remain a triumph of good taste! What else? Oh, yes! The trousers – there I had to admit defeat and visit the very nice and very reasonably priced tailor in a back street of Ortaca – the new strides look very ‘colonial’! Everything is in the ‘best possible taste’.

All of which brings me to Lycra. I have it on the very best of authority that in Henley itself, the regatta being the biggest rowing event outside of the Olympics, there will be the biggest gathering of men (and women) in Lycra to be seen this side of a Freddy Mercury Look-a-Like Contest all wandering the streets looking for food.



Men-In-Lycra very pleased to be meeting HRH (the lady in the background trying to keep a straight face is holding their pina coladas)

Bit like watching the ‘Battle Of The Bulge’ whilst spaced-out on LSD!

Alan Fenn, still in Okçular Köyü for the moment

11 thoughts on “Heading For Henley – Pt. One ‘Men In Lycra’

  1. Soft core porn, if you ask me. I used to row at school but wasn’t much cop. My team came last in the Head of the River Race in 1975, the annual Thames jolly involving virtually every crew on the river. It was quite a feat!

  2. I view the garb as a sort of modern day, all-in-one posing pouch – I’m sure you would have scored much better had it been available in your day!

    1. . . totally out of my class – I’ll struggle to keep the curling lip of contempt in check. That said, I’m really hoping the boy does good!!

  3. This is hilarious!! Alan you must do a follow-up post showing your fashionable get-up — and throw in a picture of “number one grandson” in his lycra while your at it! I think you are going to have a blast. I have fond memories of watching the “Charles River Regatta” every year along the Charles River in Boston. The Regatta is in October when the leaves on the trees are all sorts of gorgeous shades of red, yellow and orange. We would take a picnic and sit along the river and cheer all those gorgeous rowers (back in the 70s, they still wore cotton). Of course, it was just jeans and sneakers for us since we Americans are lacking in all that elegance and class you have over on the other side of the Atlantic. Enjoy and do post a photo!!

  4. . . lack of elegance and class? In Boston? Always thought that Boston was the last outpost and bastion of Englishness left on the planet! Stay tuned for Part 2 😉

  5. Enjoy Henley!

    I’ve never been during the Regatta, but when I lived in Reading we used to go there quite often when we could beg or borrow a car.

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