Why polo can cost a mint

THE POLO shenanigans are on again in the Phoenix Park, where one attends in the clubhouse, and outside it, in the company of broke, and not so broke, millionaires and the svelte, beautiful women who, for some reason, seem to be irresistibly attracted to this bruising sport.

It is the commencement of the season and the gentlemen players, not yet fit, come off the field gratefully, some clutching private parts of their anatomies and walking bow-legged for the next couple of days. Oliver Caffrey swears that one of his ponies took a runner when he saw the size of him but no doubt he will soon be in shape.

As it is now winter in the southern hemisphere (and in the northern also, by the look of it) Argentine players are free to join us, as fans of Jilly Cooper will be well aware. These fellows are commonly young, lithe, bronzed and muscular in a wiry manner. Their presence on our teams is rightly considered as crucial, as was the presence of German rocket scientists in Nasa after the war, for victory hinges on one's Argentine's being better than the other fellow's. This requires that they be entertained in some style. Fortunately, there is no shortage of country seats to accommodate them.

'But do you not have to be careful to keep them away from your wives and daughters?' I asked one of their hosts. 'Good Christ, no,' said he. 'What you have to do is keep them away from the telephone. Do you know the price of a phone call to Argentina?'

JOHN MINIHAN and Hammond have brought me some blackberry and apple jam from Wiltshire. It was made by some little old lady in that county who had sold it to them for 90p. It was covered in a thin film of fungus, which I seem to recognise from my school botany lessons as penicillin. No doubt the kindly and enterprising lady who made it has since been apprehended by the health police and flung into prison. I scraped off the fungus and deposited it in the bin. The jam was delicious.

Minihan was here for the purpose of attending an exhibition of his photographs. He is a staff snapper on the London Evening Standard and, incidentally, the greatest living portraitist. He has often got me into trouble. I introduced him to Samuel Beckett and he, in gratitude, introduced me to Samuel Beckett.

I made a speech on his behalf; I am pretty good at speaking at exhibitions, particularly if I have seen the pictures on show before I open my mouth. I was at a show here a couple of weeks ago, which was opened by Mary Banotti, MEP, one of our politicians. She had only half an hour to inspect the paintings, executed by a talented young female artist, before uttering. The content of many of these paintings was distinctly phallic. Confessing to her convent upbringing, she admitted that she had at first mistaken one such image for a tulip, and a second for a black mobile telephone.

'I was faced, you will agree, with quite a daunting task,' she tells me. 'I did not let the variety of activities I was called upon to cover put me off my stroke.' Indeed not. 'You would think,' muttered Sam Stephenson, our most distinguished architect, 'that she could recognise a prick when she saw one, after being surrounded by them all her professional life.'

I RETURN from the horror that is the Eurovision song contest in Millstreet to discover that a bomb appears to have hit my house. My glass-fronted Georgian bookcase has come adrift from the wall to which it was fixed and taken my sophisticated Japanese music system with it. The floor is strewn with shards of glass and Nipponese technology. In such circumstances, there is nothing to do but shut the door and retire to the drinks cabinet. Louis the carpenter says he will have everything back together in no time flat and I am inclined to believe him.

From Millstreet and its attendant Euro-horrors gratefully we escaped to Castle Townshend. Seeking refuge and sustenance in Mary Ann's bar, we discover the television tuned into Millstreet for the ritual of the voting. The Irish present groan loudly whenever we are given a high vote, for if we win, we will have to put it on again next year. Presently it becomes plain that if we do not win, the English will. Attitudes quickly change, and the Irish entry is backed heavily. There is rapture when the English give us douze points, virtually guaranteeing our success.

Until, that is, the realisation sinks in that the English have almost certainly done it in order to avoid the bother of winning, and so being obliged to stage the contest themselves.

Perfidious Albion has sunk us again.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices