And so the days are filled...

02 November 2005

I like horses and all but...

OK, let me start off by saying that readers from Melbourne might not want to read this post because it will amount to sacrilege in your eyes.
On the first Tuesday of November every year, there is a so-called "Race that stops the nation". It is, as you might have guessed, a horse race. Now, generally I like horses just fine, as you can see from this photo of a horse I had the pleasure of meeting last year. I also like researching the history of certain horses, which - strange as it sounds - I have had to do a few times in my life. But I'm sorry, I just don't get the Melbourne Cup, or any cup for that matter.
Throughout the spring, it is a common occurrence to see very well dressed and very drunk people heading to the race course at 10am. This culminates in what is the biggest-deal horse race I have ever seen, the Melbourne Cup, which is run at 3:10 on the first Tuesday of November, and indeed - most of the nation stops for it. In Victoria, the state that Melbourne is in, they even have a day off! Seriously! For a HORSE RACE.
Here in Sydney, most employers will put on a lunch, allow the workers to watch the race and bet in a little office sweep. It's not as big a deal here as it is in Victoria, but one year I had reason to be queuing at the Immigration Department on Melbourne Cup Day and I can assure you that even government functions cease for 10 minutes to watch the race. (There were some very puzzled migrants sitting around wondering what was going on, let me tell you. I was one of them, I admit - it was my first Melbourne Cup Day in Oz.)
This year I even managed to win $10 in the sweep because I had randomly drawn out of a hat the 2nd place winner, On A Jeune. This year's race even had the added emotion of a horse going for a 3rd straight Melbourne Cup win. (She got it - the first ever horse to do so.) It had the added drama of a jockey riding said horse who made an amazing recover after having been nearly paralysed when he fell from a horse a few years ago. (This is his third straight M.C. win on this particular horse. Yesterday a television interviewer informed him: 'Three years ago you were a hero. Two years ago you were a legend. Today you are immortal.' Gives you some idea of how seriously people take their racing.)
Still and all, I just don't get it.
What does all this have to do with knitting? Well, stupidly for the 2nd year in a row, my Stitch n Bitch group fell on Melbourne Cup Day. As I walked into the pub at 7:15pm to meet the knitters for our usual quiet session, I experienced a strange sense of deja vu. Of course, why didn't I remember this from last year??? Here are all those people who have been drinking since at least midday, spending their gambling earnings or mourning their gambling losses, carrying their stilettos in hand, or in the case of men, their ties in their pockets, generally carrying on and being a drunken rabble. I couldn't stand it so I didn't even wait to see if other knitters showed up, I just turned around and went home. I know this all probably makes me sound like a wowser, but I much prefer a sunny day at a farm and getting to feed a horse an apple to all this Melbourne Cup Madness. Or maybe I should have put more money on On A Jeune...