From VIP guest to abused idiot, it's a short hop

Share

The Cheltenham Festival is over and my sedate little spa town becomes sedate again. For four days, and particularly nights, the place becomes positively bacchanalian as, seemingly, the whole population of Ireland descends upon the Cotswolds capital. Extraordinary things take place – double-decker buses full of prostitutes and pole-dancers crawl through the streets and seemingly every building becomes a makeshift bookies-come-Guinness bar. I was deluged with enquiries on Facebook from Irishmen chancing their arm and asking whether I could put them up in an out-building if they provided a bottle of Jameson's and some good cheer? I politely declined.

It seems as if I've always lived somewhere with a big annual event. When I was in Notting Hill I had to contend with the carnival. At first it was fun, and I would host a big party on my roof but I soon got tired of it as you had to deal with lots of fair-weather friends turning up to ponce free booze and a good vantage point. By the end of my time there I would leave the city for that weekend. I would always come back too early however, and be dropped off at the frontier of the celebrations and have to drag my suitcase nervously through our darkened neighbourhood which now looked like a scene from a faraway coup d'etat.

When we moved to our first place in the Cotswolds, we were near RAF Fairford and so had the annual Air Tattoo above our heads. Most of it was quite fun, and we would climb up a big hill behind the house to watch pilots from around the world twirl and swoop in the clouds above. I'd always look forward to the climax of the show that invariably featured a Russian pilot mis-timing a pass, clipping the wings of a comrade and ejecting low over the venue. Air tattoos are like Formula One racing – you go to see the crashes and hope that nobody gets injured or killed. Actually, maybe that's just me? There were always a gaggle of spoddy plane-spotters dotted around in vans taking photos and making notes. Actually, maybe they weren't plane-spotters? Maybe they were paps chasing Hurley, Moss and the Chipping Norton set? I have no idea but I do know that both airplanes and Jeremy Clarkson make a lot of noise.

I used to attend the Cheltenham Festival as a guest of this very newspaper when the old editor-in-chief, a wonderful host, used to entertain people there. I remember standing on the terrace overlooking the grandstand with him and ex-foreign secretary Robin Cook. I looked down into the crowds and spotted a man dressed as a gold cup, clearly hired to do so by some enterprising bookie. The man was staggering through the throng handing out leaflets and being abused by the well-oiled crowd.

"That's my future, that is …."

I laughed pointing at the costumed unfortunate who had now been knocked over and was having a pitcher of beer poured down the back of his costume. Robin Cook looked bemused but Simon Kelner, the editor in question, laughed like a drain. It's a fickle world, showbusiness, so one has to celebrate while one still can.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there