Tag Archives: events

Flaw Less

We’re on the Jubilee line heading towards Wembley when two teenage girls step onto the train, both in bright red lipstick, leggings and Ivy Park tshirts. “Wow,” says Ayesha, “they’re really fans.” But even though they’re the only two sporting pieces from Beyoncé’s new activewear line, it’s clear to see who else is on their way to see the Queen herself (“Bad Bitch B”, a jumbo screen mid-stage would later flash up during the show, to the beat of a YouTube fan’s jubilant staccato); there are a few women in gold headdresses and LBDs, and a gaggle standing by the door in heels, their hair gently curled, each with a can of Archers and lemonade in hand.

Ayesha takes a quick glance at our feet. “I’m glad none of us wear heels,” she’s saying, and Hannah and I shrug. “I don’t even own heels,” Hannah replies nonchalantly, and while I do they have noticeably shrunk since my illicit clubbing days in the sixth form.

We don’t rely on articles of clothing to feel womanly, and then, it’s just not practical in London, all cobbled streets and gaps to mind. Our lives are non-stop fast-paced busy and if we can’t move we’re stifled. (Beyoncé will open the show with Formation: “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it.”) There’s too much to do and too few hours in the day already to opt-in to such an obvious handicap.

Once we’re outside the stadium we wonder whether Blue Ivy is backstage. “Why not?” I’m saying, “I’m sure there’s an army of nannies back there with her.” Having female role models gets more complicated as you get older. Men have always had an array of choices; it has never been assumed that fatherhood is an obstacle to professional success, or that men can’t be more than one thing at any given time. (Later, home videos of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s wedding, of their vacations, of their moments with Blue Ivy will be stretched three storeys high and punctuate the concert.) Sure there’s marketing and manufacturing, but still Beyoncé is all-encompassing.

Beyoncé isn’t like us, but she isn’t like anything else we’ve ever seen before, either.


At The Races

“Wearing a hat-thing, it’s pretty awful,” I’m saying as I’m fighting to keep my fascinator on my head while walking down the stairs to see the Queen. A man just ahead is looking back to watch me, also going down stairs, with a drink in each hand. I catch his eye as he says to me in a response I didn’t ask for, “But it looks rather lovely.”

It’s mid-June and this is a British summer, wearing a hat at Royal Ascot in the rain. It isn’t freezing but it isn’t warm either, and I’m a little envious of the women in the Royal Enclosure who have to, as a matter of dress code, “cover up”; a conservative demand that keeps you warm when your optimism fails you.

While we wait for the Queen to arrive from Windsor in her carriage, we drink Pimm’s, obviously, except an English person with class would never say “obviously” about anything. I’ve never been classy though– I wear running clothes at every opportunity and don’t always shower and am mean about things I should be open to. Instead I’m hoping that wearing pink-on-pink and sipping champagne over lunch are good enough stand-ins for class.

Back inside at our table, when we’re deciding which bets to place, I choose a horse who shares her name with my future mother-in-law, which seems as good a system as any. Although I have a good feeling about her I place a very small, very safe bet, and when her race comes around I’m cheering for Jennies Jewel as I overhear people whispering her name and mentioning good odds. She wins by a neck’s length, and I’m first in line to collect my winnings.