Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Goodwood Day 3

Don't look too closely, but...

Very proud of the lining of the coat!

Any hopes I may have had of being given one of the coveted bottles of champagne or bouquets of flowers for being “judged by fashion experts as being exceptionally well-groomed” were dashed when I put on my only pair of flesh-coloured back-seamed tights (by Pamela Mann Tights, one size fits all –ha!) purchased from one of the lovely stalls the day before. The right leg went into two long ladders on the front, and a vast hole at the back from which radiated –like the tendrils of a vast jellyfish – a host of ladders. Devastated but ultra-careful with the left leg, I managed to get away with causing only two, but they went a long way down. Limping down the stairs, trying not to bend my knees and make the ladders worse, I got to the kitchen and asked Shirley’s kind friend (and former mayor of Chichester) who was putting me up if she had any nail polish. She did…bright red. Desperately I dabbed a bit on, trying only to get the very edges of the nylon, but naturally it went all over my skin. Nail-polish remover only made things worse. It looked as if the ladders had been caused by a horrible accident which had caused extensive, but ultimately staunched, bleeding.
Perfect for motor racing.
Hell, I don’t do this ‘grooming’ thing anyway. If I’d lived in the 30s, 40s, 50s, I’d have gone for the frocks but hated the gloves. They interfere with life, with piano playing, with turning pages, with insect-rescuing.
Goodwood was hopping. Ladies’ Day had brought out the ladies. Bunny girls, Butlins girls (full of whoops of artificial joy and wearing Carry-On mini outfits that called to mind drive-in girls on rollerskates). And then, the girls who held the signs on the track, showing where the positions were. Two of these could equal one bunny girl in girth, and the bunny girls weren’t exactly fat (except in two locations). For photos I refer you to Flickr. I was busy being awestruck by all those late fifties and early sixties engines ROARING away. Thrilling.
“The grid girls are very thin this year,” said one of the JAP-engine Cooper drivers. “And they’re not as friendly. They don’t chat or make jokes, and that really put us at our ease in past years. I really miss them.”

Photo by Paul d'Orleans, the Vintagent
They were dressed in very small 1960s Mondrian-inspired minidresses and had very specific hand-on-hip stances and white shiny boots. And they must have been utterly frozen. The wind bit hard, and the air was damp. From the roof I kept seeing drivers and photographers talking to them, and the girls nodding their heads rather emphatically.
“You know the question don’t you. And the answer,” I said to Shirley’s friend with the red nail-polish as we held our coats warmly about us. Also with me was Laura, the wife of Martin Withers DFC, Vulcan pilot, and hero. He was pushing Shirley’s car. Shirley was awestruck at being pushed by the man who had flown the famous “Black Buck” sixteen-hour mission in the Falklands. Do click on the link I've put here. It's an amazing story.
Fifteen minutes before the race started, the heavens opened. A waterfall formed at the awnings over the cars in the paddocks. Everyone stood still, and all faces had fallen, in a sort of tableau of despair. It was to be a very different race than they’d anticipated, and set up their cars for. Nobody spoke as we heard the rain pounding above us.
Nevertheless, Shirley did very well with her car, frozen in time as it was, 1951. She did it proud. Being related to me, of course an immediate, ruthless and brutal post-mortem occurred after the race. I know. I do the same after a gig.
Poor ladies on Ladies’ Day. All that finery. All that cold and wet. All those non-colourfast vintage fabrics. It was fun, in a bitchy way, seeing vintage fashionistas with their carefully plucked and pencilled eyebrows, stencilled Barbara Stanwyck lip-shapes, matching shoes, gloves, hat, bag, sculpted hair, posing away in fashion-plate stances and smiling when the big cameras came out, only to watch those cameras shift off to the side and focus on a 1959 Jaguar They happened to be standing near.
A trio of land-girls with hair kerchiefs done up like the “We Can Do It!” poster girl went round doing an Andrews Sisters imitation, mostly in the VIP areas.
And a Hippie camp was set up near Butlins, with tree-hugging and singing and face-painting. Unless they were sticking flowers in exhaust pipes, I don’t think hippies would have attended car races.
“They’d better not stick a flower in this exhaust pipe,” said Bill. He had a big spanner in his hand, too.

(note: the coat pictured at the top, and the hat, are from a Vintage shop in lower GIBSONS, of all places, called Starlet Vintage, and were birthday presents from my brother and sister-in-law. One of the best opportunities to put a birthday present to immediate use, EVER.)

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