I’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.
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.
I 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 (telegraph.co.uk)
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