Sunday 17 November 2019

Ladies Day is in desperate need of bad taste

Dressed for the occasion: the girls at Aintree Ladies Day have the right attitude. Getty
Dressed for the occasion: the girls at Aintree Ladies Day have the right attitude. Getty
Lady in waiting: Jodie Whittaker will become the next Dr Who.
Holiday envy.
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

There it is. Hovering on the horizon, with all its bells, whistles and accumulator bets; the Galway Races.

While I am a fan of all the fun of the track I have become ever so slightly allergic to Ladies Day and competitive dressing.

It's all just a bit predictable.

Year in, year out, variations of the same outfits are victorious, and ladies hoist trophies and shopping vouchers in the air while their heels sink into the grass.

I have covered plenty of Ladies Days and to win, you need to follow a pretty bog-standard checklist.

You must wear something vintage/borrowed from your granny to show you have an eye for fashion and to give the outfit a good backstory.

You must wear something cheap (preferably from Penneys) to show you know a good bargain when you see one and that you don't have notions.

It's preferable if some detail, like a hat pin, is designer - it tells the judges you know what's worth investing in, thanks very much.

Last but by no means least something must be local - a Best Dressed Woman looks out for her own. Loyalty is prized and paramount.

I can't be the only one fatigued by this paint by numbers approach to competitive dressing.

It feels like we have seen every single Ladies winner before - and we usually have as many of them enter multiple times.

I don't have an issue with perennial competitors - why wouldn't you keep entering a competition if you'd discovered the winning formula?

But I do wish race day organisers or the judges wouldn't choose such same-y, same-y outfits.

All of which could be filed under 'fancy wedding guest, with a very fancy fascinator on'.

It's so bland, and boring.

Here's a thought. Why don't judges and organisers start giving race days themes?

It would be much more fun if the dress code was Cereal Box Characters, or Steampunk, or Mobsters and Lobsters, or Love Island love trysts, or Celtic Tiger Heroes and Villains?

Personally, I would love to see a group of women huddled together at the parade ring waiting to hear if the top prize had gone to Teresa from Mayo - dressed as the ill-fated Bertie Bowl - or Sandra from Wicklow who had opted for a 'Harvey Dent' style ensemble depicting Rosanna Davison on one side and Johnny Ronan on the other.

But a girl can only dream. The only time I get excited about the fashion at races these days is when we are talking about either Cheltenham or Aintree.

The first time I went to Cheltenham I saw a man in tweed tails and a top hat with Union Jack brogues on and a woman with so many stacked strings of pearls she looked like a Dior J'Adore perfume bottle.

Aintree on the other hand is all eye-lash extensions, glossy manes, and 'Shuber' heels (shoes that can only be worn if you plan on taking an Uber everywhere).

Not only do the people attending these race meetings look like they had a blast getting ready but there is also a healthy splash of vulgarity.

And that's needed. As Harpers Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland often said, a dose of bad taste is good for us.

"It's like a nice splash of paprika - we all need it. Bad taste is healthy, it's hearty, it's physical. It's no taste is what I am against." Hear, hear.

Lesson here - head to the tack room and get tarted up.

Old boys' club alive and well in telly land

Lady in waiting: Jodie Whittaker will become the next Dr Who.

'Daleks will have breasts next!' and 'Nobody wants a Tardis full of bras!' were my favourite battlecries from the Whovian Old Guard when it emerged the 13th Dr Who would be a woman (Jodie Whitaker).

The Daily Mail lamented the demise of the male protagonist. "The new protector of the galaxy dyes her hair?" they scoffed before asking what was next - Jemima Bond? Draculette? Mother Christmas? These sentiments were echoed on line, "Dr Who is a Time Lord not a Time Lady!" one commentator noted. The hashtag #NurseWho started doing the rounds while others pointed out that "Time travel is for men and men only!" Yes, of course it is.

There seemed to be a latent sense of fear amongst the fandom. When will it end? Who are these 'women' you speak of? And why are they hell-bent on ruining everything?

And by 'everything' - the fandom usually mean 'light entertainment tv shows/film franchises running out of steam'.

I found all the huffing and puffing about Dr Who hugely entertaining but wasn't laughing quite so much when the BBC revealed their top earners.

The list was, to quote Woman's Hour host Jane Garvey, "extraordinarily male" and almost entirely pale.

Clearly spooked by the BBC backlash, RTÉ were keen to stress that two of their top earners were female in 2014. As the station's latest €19.7m deficit figures show, RTÉ isn't great on the old mathematics. Most of us learned that half of ten is five in Senior Infants.

When it comes to gender balance on screen, RTÉ have a long way to go. Aside from Miriam and Claire - they seem reluctant to have women on TV after 9pm. When asked about the lack of female guests on The Late Late Show last year, Ryan Tubridy replied; "We take the best we can get, regardless of gender."

Hmm, RTÉ seem to be confusing 'gender neutral' with 'gender blind'. Unless they change their tune they can expect a similar backlash when their top earners' salaries are released this year.


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