As I mentioned in an entry on May 31, the actor Hugh Laurie has published a funny article, “Traffic, trivia and daylight snobbery”, about the Henley Royal Regatta in The Sunday Telegraph on July 2, 1990. Here is the beginning of the article.
“Well, Henley Royal Regatta has come round again. If the two words that spring to your lips on hearing this news are “so” and “what”, more or less in that order, I shall not hold it against you. Although I have competed in the Regatta three times, and been a spectator since I was cork-high to a Jeroboam, I’d be the first to admit that Henley is a very peculiar institution.
The last time I raced at Henley was in 1980, in the final of the Silver Goblets. It was a very bad year to pick. The regatta had been overrun by the American Olympian squad who were looking to kick some sand into English faces after their boycott of the Moscow Games.
With my partner, James Palmer, I squared up to two brothers by the name of Borscheldt, [sic M. & F. Borchelt] who were 19 feet tall and made entirely of Kevlar. Or maybe they were called Kevlar and made of Borscheldt, I can’t remember. Anyway, they were munching canapés on the flight back to Boston by the time we finished.
Soon after that defeat I hung up my rowing trousers and beat my oar into a ploughshare, but to this day I cannot shake off a considerable fascination with Henley. It is, as I said, a very peculiar institution.
But by golly it is a popular. Nowadays, something like half a million people visit it each year. You could explain this by saying that Henley is an important part of the ‘social calendar’, but how many of us own one of those, or would even know where to buy one?”