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I WAS RECENTLY SEARCHING through old files for something or other which I never found. But I did uncover two bits of Henley Royal Regatta memorabilia, plus a goofy photo that’s not unrelated to this historic English event.
Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits gleaned from memory and from my usual Internet sleuthing.
Henley Royal Regatta. Wikipedia describes the Henley Royal Regatta as “a rowing event held annually on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, England. It was established on 26 March 1839.”
“The regatta,” Wikipedia continues, “is regarded as part of the English social season. As with other events of the season, certain enclosures at the regatta have strict dress codes.”
Bill Fink’s Kind Invitation. My attendance at the Stewards’ Enclosure of the 1988 Henley Royal Regatta came through the kind invitation of friend Bill Fink, rest his soul, who had rowed for Keble College, Oxford, during his university days.
Bill was the principal U.S. importer of Morgan sports cars (and this automaker’s saving grace back when federal regulations hit). His San Francisco firm, Isis Imports, was named for the river flowing through Oxford.
A Proper Crowd, And No Crowding. Wikipedia observes, “The Stewards’ Enclosure is also known for a strict enforcement of its dress code. Men are required to wear a ‘lounge suit, blazer and flannels, or evening dress, and a tie.’ In the past, women were required to wear a dress or skirt that covers the knees, and are ‘encouraged to wear a hat’ (although women wearing hats is often frowned upon in higher rowing circles).”
These days, Wikipedia notes, “Mobile phone use is … prohibited. In 2021, following a petition that gained over 1500 signatures, Henley Royal Regatta changed the 189-year-old dress code in the Stewards’ Enclosure to allow women to wear jackets or blazers with trousers, or trouser suits.”
Back in 1988, women were still elegantly attired in skirts or dresses covering the knees. I wore my blue blazer, rep-striped bowtie, flannels, and a jaunty straw boater with blue band. Of which more anon.
Pimm’s Cup No. 1. I cannot speak for the other enclosures, but the Stewards’ crowd favored Pimm’s Cup No. 1; indeed, from a surprisingly early hour.
Wikipedia says, “Pimm’s is an English brand of gin-based fruit cup but may also be considered a liqueur or the basis of a sling or punch. It was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm…. Its most popular product is Pimm’s Cup No. 1.
To my taste, it is properly served iced with a spear of cucumber. It can also be mixed with champagne in a drink known as Pimm’s Royal Cup; this, traditionally enjoyed later in the day.
My Day at the Regatta. I was staying with the Roberts, Anita being Innes Ireland’s secretary, husband David having already introduced me to Pimm’s, and Georgina, their daughter, having a birthday celebration later that day.
Google Maps (which, of course, didn’t exist back then) shows a 47-minute drive from the Roberts to Henley. My borrowed car for this English visit was a Ford Escort RS Turbo trimmed out with twin rally lights on the front fascia. Again, of which more anon.
My CAR PARK ticket was No. 8766. Ominously, its Notice of Disclaimer read, “All vehicles are left in the car park at owners’ risk.—J.E. Pickett, Town Clerk.”
No problem, I thought. This is the Stewards’ Enclosure, after all. And as I entered around 11 a.m.: “Yes, please; I will have a Pimm’s No. 1.”
Tomorrow in Part 2, later in the day I evade the Perils of Pimm’s. (Can you spell “Breathalyser”?) ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021
Yes, Bill Fink, RIP.