With one eye open
The combined Groucho Club and Coach and Horses Derby Day outing went very well considering the crew and the fact that the first champagne cork popped at 7 a.m. The Groucho laid on a very good breakfast which was eaten in a strange hush. Every- one seemed to be out of context at that time of day, caught, as it were, with their guards down. It even took a couple of hours for Norman to move from depress- ion to mania.
When we did finally get to the course he who doesn't know the diffference be- tween 6-4 and Marble Arch — had a silly argument with a bookmaker. I crept off for a few minutes with She who would on iron 14 shirts at a standing — she can hardly bring herself to massage my back any more — to have a drink with Robert Sangster. As befits a man with a few shillings in his current account he exuded a calm confidence. He is not the sort of man who would jump out of his skin if he heard a knock on his door. Anyway, his confi- dence or whatever was a little infectious so I plunged rather too heavily on his Glacial Storm just as they were being loaded into the stalls. Here endeth the umpteenth lesson. I didn't before realise that the West Indies or Bangkok were only one and a half lengths away. Oh well.
After an excellent Groucho lunch of salmon and strawberries the resident Coach and Horses eccentric, the Red Baron, passed out on the grass. A patrol- ling posse of policemen examined him quite closely to make sure he wasn't dead. He wasn't and lived to eat yet another lunch. What I thought was a little odd was the fact that the eye over which he wears his monocle was wide open. I have seen a man asleep standing up in the Colony Room Club but never a man unconscious With an eye open.
But the day's punting revealed two People to be very crafty gamblers: The Spectator's Christopher Howse and Quar- tet Books' Stephen Pickles. My brother Bruce backed the winner and he still hasn't bought me a drink. My brother Oliver lost and I have just sent my bookmaker, Victor Chandler, a cheque which I hope he takes like a man. It took one to write it out. But still, when I won £800 on Grand National day his cheque to me came winging its way through the post at the speed of light. British Post office light. We must be all Square come the day of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes When hopefully Glacial Storm and Kahyasi might renew their rivalry.
It must be said, by the way, that the two Young men and two young women from the Groucho who served the drinks and the food were bloody marvellous and nowa- days nobody wants to serve anybody. But there was a strange end to a jolly but expensive day. She who would once iron went home and who should walk into the Pub but that heroine of yesteryear whom I haven't seen in ages — She who would once drown in my eyes. As it happens she is now trying to drown herself in the eyes of a Publican I have known for years. Better a Publican's eyes than a hack's. She is still a mess, sadly, and she was wearing the dress I think I once cleaned my shoes with in 1983. A pity really because I thought she Would change and settle down, as my number four used to say.
So, another Derby has passed and very soon we shall be working on the puzzle of the 1989 Derby winner. We haven't seen him out in public yet, I'm sure of that. So Where is he lurking? I would love it to be in Peter Walwyn's yard. Oh for the days of 1975 and Grundy and the sun over the Yard-arm of the Seven Barrows yard. An adjustable yard-arm. Peter recently had an arm smashed by a horse, the good Major Dick is in a wheelchair and the hero Fred Winter isn't as well as he deserves to be. Why don't these things happen to the Shits? The Ayatollah Khomeini still lives. And another thing that depresses me is Lester having his OBE stripped. I find that the entire business of that man's life being screwed up by his silly greed terribly sad. It is almost as though Nelson struck his colours. Meanwhile, keep an eye on those two-year-olds. Next year we must win, keep the Red Baron awake and gag Nor- man after 10 a.m. And now to hospital to be restabilised. I shall study form for a week.