"You know--I've been thinking about that," he said. "We came down here to see this terrible scene: people all pissed out of their minds and vomiting on themselves and all that...and now, you know what? It's us..." Hunter S. Thompson
I step off the bus, it's 8:30 on a dreary English summer morning, a stag weekend at the races. Along with watching a rugby match, this is a place I'd never imagine I'd willingly step foot in. The drinking started at 7, the entirely expected depravity kicked off even earlier than assumed, even before climbing onto the rented shuttle bus, the poor driver already regretted taking this job. As one of several outcasts to this activity, our main goal was to fully witness the level of depravity and to fully immerse ourselves as much as possible.
Several beers in and the rest of the rabble stumble off behind me, I am followed by the stag himself, piss already adorning his cream chinos. Looking around, the sight isn't too dissimilar from our own party; replacing repugnant men with deplorable women, stags for hens, all turning up for the sole purpose to appear upstanding yet act as far removed from the utmost decorum that is expected at such venues. The first hurdle is the security barrier, the last checkpoint, the final chance for Ascot to protect their sanctity and to remove as much rabble as possible before the point of no return. The process would be a hell of a lot stricter if it wasn't for the fact that said rabble provides the most money for them.
Barely ten steps towards the shiny gates and the sniffer dog picks out one from our pack. Led off and stripped down and searched for drugs, we were one down and we hadn't even had our tickets stamped yet. Glancing around and it was impossible to tell the rich from the want to be rich, badly fitting navy suits with matching shaved back and sides, dresses as short and revealing as etiquette would allow, Ascot has well and truly wrestled the spectacle from the upper class, and I am more than happy to witness this.
Approaching the betting desks, I had to act like I knew what I was doing, for which I had not a clue. Gambling for me extended as far as lazy accumulators on Soccer Saturday and the closest I came to gambling on horses was the Steeple Chase plastic horse races at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the 90s. Fumbling around with the day's programme, I carefully study the races and ignore all and any odds and choose names that sound the best. Pete Clutterbuck is the name of a champion. Placing modest bets on all races, including the much looked down upon pony races, I walk away confident.
Making my way back to our table, a place where the stag and his cohorts make camp. Endless cups of beer greet me, every empty is replaced with a full one, no choice but to consume them at a steady pace. The escalator offers a last reprieve for those with actual money to escape the horde of the ground floor, the horde I am slowly entwining myself within, every passing hour entrenching us with the mob. The first race is announced, and the baying masses, betting slips in hand, are released upon the paddock. I step out, dodging the first of many puddles of vomit and allow the atmosphere to engulf me as the ponies are led towards the starting line, I am already enraptured.
To be Continued...