The Race That Stops My Interest 

Ok I admit it, I am a party pooper. Today was the first Tuesday in November and that means only one thing in Australia: The Melboune Cup. This is the horse race that is billed as, ‘The Race That Stops the Nation,’ as all over the country, everyone stops what they are doing for the two and a half odd minutes it takes the horses to get from start to finish.

Our office was no exception. Several sweeps had been organised. I went through a large part of my life without ever coming across a sweep, but you can not escape them on Melbourne cup day. For a certain stake, eg five dollars, you enter the sweep and get to pick a random ticket. That ticket is your horse and the entire pot is divided up and shared between those lucky enough to have picked out first, second and third places.

A few years ago, I was listening to a programme about dictionary curation. The interviewee was explaining how words drop out of use and from there out of the dictionary. She was asked which words were likely for the chop that year. She thought that ‘fascinator’ an obscure word for a small hat might not make it through another review.

That woman has obviously never been to Australia on the first Tuesday in November.

Although fascinators are generally worn at the track, on Melbourne Cup they are bloody everywhere. Across the office tall stems with feathers and bits of netting bobbed about over the line of partitions as people brought the raceside fashion to work.

Of course there was a morning tea/lunch – as in WA the race is run at midday (three o’clock in Melbourne). This year a small committee had established itself and bought paper cups and napkins. Someone had rigged up a laptop and projector and a white board on wheels had been cleaned off and positioned to screen the event.

It is nice to occasionally break out of the humdrum of the office routine and had a bit of fun, but it is not for me. Horses die running this race – although to be fair, I am not aware of any that died this year. Betting adverts seem to be everywhere now that the crack down on tobacco sponsorship has finally wiped its presence off the airways, and while I would not for a minute suggest that smoking is a good idea, I don’t think betting is that healthy a habit either. Plus every betting advert is a shouty, mock epic affair that universally portrays women as pouty party poopers who will spoil your fun if you are a MAN who wants a BET.

Well I am a woman and if people wanted to dress up and have a laugh and a join in a sweep, that is fine by me, just don’t be mad at me for not wanting to join in on this one. Apart from anything else, it is quite a boring race to watch.


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