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Dinner with a class act; Man Overboard A life less ordinary with Richard Irvine A life less ordinary with Richard Irvine.

Byline: Man Overboard

'A ND what do you do?" I said, as I sat down at the table inside the wedding marquee. "Professional polo player," replied the very good looking man (I'm secure enough within myself to say that) sitting opposite me.

"Really," I said, trying to hide my disappointment at the fact he was now going to be the focus of attention for the whole table.

And as if to reinforce that belief, the rest of the table immediately stopped talking and looked at Mr Fancy Polo Player with interest in their eyes and their mouths slightly ajar in admiration.

You see, being a journalist means at any wedding table scenario you're guaranteed at least a good ten minutes of interested guests, until they realise you don't know any celebrities.

"So you get paid to play polo, it's kind of like a footballer with horses," I said.

I think that last statement told everyone all they needed to know about my experience with the world of polo.

For all I knew, polo was a game played by Royalty in their back garden. Much like I might kick a football against a fence, they'd saddle up some horses and charge around until their little upper-class cheeks went pink with the jolliness of it all.

I decided on a follow-up question to show I was comfortable with the world of polo and came up with: "You must know Jodie Kidd's brother, you know the model, I think he plays polo," I said, thanking those days spent lying on a beach somewhere, when all I had left to read was my girlfriend's Hello! magazine.

"Yeah, I do," he said.

Dammit, he really did know a celebrity, albeit the brother of a celebrity.

He's already up on me with the whole "polo" thing, and now he's mates with Jodie Kidd's brother.

I decided to call a halt to the polo thing and concentrated on trying to secure a bread stick from the centre of the table before Mr Fancy Pants Polo Player took them all to feed his horse, which he probably had tethered to his Aston Martin outside.

"So, where do you live?" he said. "Liverpool," I said.

"Oh," he said. This was going nowhere, I thought, that man has never been north of Luton.

"It's actually a really nice city, lots of heritage, beautiful buildings," I said.

"Still full of Scousers," he said. Ouch, tough crowd, I thought. By which point, this polo-playing friend to the sort-of stars had me feeling like I was sitting holding a whippet, wearing a cloth cap and dressed in a suit stained with coal dust from the pit-face.

And can I just point out that I'm very middleclass, I know this because my mum cuts sandwiches horizontally to make little triangles, and sometimes even takes the crusts off.

It was time to play the "journalist" card, but also added I harboured secret ambitions of being an international cycling reporter.

"Much call for a bike writer on the Liverpool Times," he said.

Brilliant, thanks for that, toffo, I thought. Naturally I simply tugged my forelock and smiled, I know my place.

And the last laugh, Oh, that was all mine. I think I saw him using his soup spoon for the dessert. Class ... it's something you're born with.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2009
Words:552
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