It’s an eclectic transatlantic social cocktail at London’s Guards Polo Club. The British Polo Association have extended the invitation to the cousins from across the pond, and subsequently Boston’s pedigrees look like they’ve stopped by at Manhattan Saddlery and cleared them out of rubber wellies and faux tweed. The British, naturally, are wearing their great-grandfathers kit.
It’s the OxBridge vs. Harvard Yale Alumni polo competition, and I’m serving the drinks.
The transatlantic cousins are a thirsty bunch and despite the early hour – it’s 9:45am – Moet and Dom Perignon are guzzled in abundance.
A young Oxonian with overpowering cologne and slick hair confidently waltzes over for, what I presume is the on-the-house champagne: “I’ve been pictarraaared in Tatlaaaar over 20 times and I’m on first name terms with Prince Harry, yaaaa,” he tells me with pompous passion. Riveting. I was once at a 21st party with Malcolm Turnball and was snapped in the Central Coast Express for winning a Nippers competition I reply, in my head. Like an exemplary waitress, I hold my tongue and politely excuse myself on the pretence of topping up his bubbles.
As the day progresses and the Dom transitions to Scotch, the assembly of American and British elite start to resemble a Jilly Cooper novel. Except no one’s fornicating in the haystacks, yet.
I’m currently being pursued by a neurosurgeon who’s just appeared on the BBC. His wife is at the Ladies.
“I’ve got so many contacts in journalism, and I want to help you get an ‘in” (journalism, it should be said, is my desired profession), he says, with a wink.
Brilliant – let’s exchange contact details, email?
“I only do phone. Also, what about lunch at Barnes village next Thursday? I can pick you up in my car.”
I retreat in haste.
Whilst retreating, a fellow brother in bar-tending partner in arms, Francois, looks pained. He’s objecting to the octopusy enthusiastic hands of a 60-year-old former Cambrian turned politician.
“This top, it’s far too tight,” the white moustached gentleman drunkenly ogles. He’s suggestively tugging at my colleague’s staff uniform.
“These men,” Francois tells me in private, “they all want the bottom.” Noted. I don’t know if they all want ‘the bottom’ per say, but they’re certainly after something that’s not strictly in-house.
A British American Polo match perfectly encapsulates every British American elitist stereotype. The American neighbours respond to the bellows of Jnr. something, and are possessed with bleached white teeth and too much cologne. The British, by comparison, wear tweed two sizes too big and discuss the merits of a particular horses’ hooves and stamina with such gusto that you think it would be of national importance. The Americans here are interested in the booze and the cost of your car and chauffeur, whilst the Brits are aroused in the presence of dogs and horses.
Moreover, a number of the all boys’ private schooled institutionalised pupils have realised 30 years too late that their cuddle with Cuthbert in the rectory was not so innocent, whatever the Headmaster had said, and they prefer a different flavour to the one they’re having at home.
I have an interesting affinity with these people. I’m at once aghast but heavily envious. I want this life; the title, land and more importantly, the money. I don’t want to continue living off beans on toast because I can’t afford my London rent. I want the carefreeness inherited, not taught, from this elitism class.
Yet there’s something so relentlessly ruthless in this British and American elite. Everyone has spent the day constantly looking over their shoulder: who’s talking to who, who said what, who knows who.
It’s exhausting, and I’m just the waitress.
But, these people have choice. They can choose not to work, where to holiday and when. Whilst money doesn’t offer or shower you with an abundance of happiness, it does offer you one of life’s most valuable: choice. The choice not to be a waitress for ten hours straight for £6 an hour. Serving a selection of alcoholic beverages that cost more than your daily wage while simultaneously rebuffing the unwanted advances of an assortment of young and old British and American elite.
Speaking of, Mr. Tatler waltzes back over. He trips on his velvet oxblood moccasins and Moet splashes on his crisp white trousers.
“Take my picture girl, will you?”
I take his SLR camera. He laughs, loudly.
“You’re not the Daily Mail are you? You could get a fortunaaaaaane for these pictures of moi.”
I raise my eyebrows and tell him to stop playing with his quiff.
“By the way – what’s your accent?”
For someone who’s a parasite professional on the socialist circuit, he’s absolutely hopeless at keeping still for the flash.
“O, from the colaaaanies then,” and blows me a kiss.