Ascot singalong: time warp or true Brits at play?

June 19, 2008

ascot.jpgIt certainly must rank as one of the most bizarre sights of the British summer season — a bunch of boozy racegoers bellowing out the chorus to “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts.”

For the Royal Ascot meeting ends every evening with race fans congregating around the bandstand for a roustabout singalong with the band of the Welsh Guards.

Standing there in the sunshine on the opening day of the Royal meeting on Tuesday, I couldn’t help shaking my head in disbelief.

Complimentary Union Jacks were handed out to everyone. Royal Ascot songbooks were then issued so that the crowd could all join in and lustily bellow out “Keep right on to the end of the road.”

The social mix was intriguing, the singing heartfelt but a trifle erratic.

Well-oiled Londoners clutching a pint of lager and lost in admiration of their ladies’ fake tans and skimpy outfits mingled cheerfully with top-hatted racegoers who wandered down from the Royal Enclosure in their sombre morning coats.

They sure made an unlikely combination launching into “Knees Up Mother Brown.”

After a day when the champagne has flowed like water in every racecourse enclosure, they all sang cheerfully along to “I’m forever blowing bubbles.”

It felt like the last night of the promenade concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall — the British at their most eccentric with a distinctive echo of old Empire days.

There certainly was no danger of anyone feeling left out as the singalong moved swiftly from “Molly Malone” to “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner” and then onto “My Bonnie lies over the ocean.”

“She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” really got them going with its “I-Yi-Yippee-Yippee-I” chorus.

And, like the last night of the proms, it all ended with a burst of patriotic fervour and much chauvinistic flag-waving as the crowd launches into a deafening final chorus of “Land of Hope and Glory.”

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