The McCarthy housebuilding family are mad about polo. Building joined them at one of the poshest events of the season - the Cartier International Polo at Windsor
“I really like Spence and Clint, but they inhabit a bit of a different world don’t they?” says one of their guests.
Spencer and Clinton McCarthy, directors of Churchill Retirement Living, have hired out a marquee at Windsor for the Cartier International Polo event. Champagne flows by the crate. Fellow director and father John chomps on an unimaginably large cigar as he meets and greets the guests.
First match up is the Prince of Wales team, which includes Prince Harry, versus the Hurlingham Club. One of the event’s two commentators, a sort of Super John Motson, desperately attempts to bag himself a knighthood: “Go on Harry of Wales, you can do it sir!” Unfortunately for the Motty-wannabe and royalists everywhere, Hurlingham edge out the match.
Spencer explains the rules of the game to some of his more plebbish guests. He also explains the dangers of the game. A New Zealand friend of his, on whose farm he and John stayed for a few weeks in the early 90s, was killed earlier this month.
Once rated at one of the UK’s top amateurs, Spencer gets on his horse and plays in his own team, Emlor, four times a week. Unsurprisingly, he has had several injuries of his own, including having his front teeth knocked out and broken fingers.
It was worse for John though. A few years ago a fall came perilously close to ending his life, sending him into intensive care with 12 cracked ribs, a broken shoulder and a punctured lung.
This has not stopped other family members from taking up the game. At lunch Clinton’s 18-year-old daughter Laura explains how she made the England Ladies’ team last year, whilst sitting next to her is boyfriend Maurice, fully kitted out in his England under-21 uniform.
Laura wants to be a fashion photographer, but Clinton has tried to entice her into the family business. Already she has attended a sales and marketing meeting, but the suspicion remains that retirement housing is not her bag.
Also at lunch is Spencer’s wife, Bridget. She admits to a slight relief that the McCarthy & Stone deal did not come off last year, as her husband is already a workaholic: they go on holiday to the Maldives most Januaries and he spends much of his time trying to set up an internet link.
The second game is on, England versus Chile. The commentator appears to have drunk a few glasses of champers during lunch. Bizarrely, he asks the ladies in the crowd to not remove their dresses during breaks in the game, and asks his New Zealand co-commentator to speak in an Australian accent.
Quite what the Queen - rumoured to be drinking tea with none other than the son of another great housebuilder Tony Pidgley - makes of the commentator is anyone’s guess.
Chile win 10-8.
A different world indeed.