The Melbourne Cup should no longer be billed as "The Race That Stops A Nation", if we were to be totally accurate then it should be, "The Race That Ensures All Productivity Ceases For At Least A Day And A Half, Depending On Who Wins, Who Gets Drunkest And Who Scores In The Filing Closet."
Back in the day, and I mean when Moses was a lad, the Melbourne Cup was the premier horse racing event on the Australian sporting calendar. Now it’s the premier racing event on the social calendar. You tell me what went wrong because I have no idea. I think when someone dragged Jean ‘The Shrimp’ Shrimpton to the event and allowed her to show off her long legs and tight buns it all went tits up. Certainly by the time Susan Renauf-Peacock-Sangster-Alphabet graced the event and Sir John Kerr gave one of the more fondly remembered of all drunken speeches (along the lines of “Blaarrgghhhh tha’ fuggin’ Gough fuggin' Whitlam and that fuggin' caaannnttt, Malcolm, don't fuggin' get me started…ahhh fuggit!”) and followed it up with a good spew in a bin it no longer resembled a horse race. Gone are the days when the only female allowed into Flemington had four legs, a long nose and wasn’t Sarah Jessica-Parker no matter how close the resemblance. Gone are the days when men would grace Flemington wearing pork pie hats, drinking cans and smoking darts, they’ve now been replaced by a gaggle of Z-List wannabe celebrities and potential date rapists and their victims; all wearing some of the stupidest outfits this side of Al Grasby and his bloody ties and wide lapels. Perhaps the Race stopped being about horses (well, the four legged variety at least) when ‘they’ – and I have no idea who the mysterious ‘they’ are – invited Paris ‘Man Hands’ Hilton to the event. What does she have to do with horses? Nothing. I doubt she’d seen a horse before she went and she’s probably still not seen one.
You’d not see Think Big racing around entertaining a pack of twenty something, $1:50 per glass Champagne guggling twits all wearing objects on their heads that they’d quite happily ridicule colleagues for if someone would dare turn up to work, or another function, wearing. And therein lies the issue – they’re not hats. A hat is what Steve Waugh wore on the cricket field. A hat is what Rex Hunt puts fishing hooks in and occasionally wipes his arse with when he’s caught short on a boat or in the commentary box. Those oversized pieces of taffeta, wire, cheap dead flowers and tissue paper that you’ve stapled to your head isn’t a hat. It might well be a fashion statement, that statement being that you know absolutely nothing about fashion. Man-O-War never won the Melbourne Cup, but he never worse a hat either.
I once knew a guy who lived in Melbourne who had a double breasted baby-shit brown suit made in the 1970s with lapels wider than most freeways. Ray Charles would have seen it for what it was – horrid. Even Sir Les Patterson wouldn’t have touched this with a brick. Yet once a year it was fashionable and I was always amazed. He spilt a pie on it one year and people complimented him on both the colour blending and the unique design. I poured a pint down his back and the same thing happened. “Two Tone Harry” we’d call him, and he loved it. At least once a year he could wear his beloved suit without having to lose a bet or fear a beating from people who just felt that he was wrong. Tell me how that was fashion. I swear I see that suit every year on Channel 10. Guys wearing suits with the arse out, or those 'tuxedo shirts', you know the ones, that wife-beating bogans wear to weddings or funerals, or suits hired from some formal wear place that charge extra at this time of the year to cover the removal of stains and bodily fluids. Still it is better than some of the size 18 women who insist on covering themselves in butter and cramming into a size 12 dress looking like 20 pounds of shit in a 10 pound bag. Love the side and back tits honey and for God's sake, don't breathe and stay away from the animal enclosure lest someone throw a saddle on your back and enter you in the 4:10pm Bastard Stakes.
The race is a joke. Productivity ceases, nationwide, so why not just declare it a public holiday and be done with it? I do notice that all ‘Problem Gambling’ ads cease – after all it’s not in anyone’s best interests to remind people that gambling can lead to a loss of income, spouse, house, and possibly life. No, one this day it’s all about gambling, and people will happily tell you to ‘bet the house’ on Ol’ Paint and if you lose, well, you’ll be too drunk to do anything about it so why worry? There’s always next year, and hey, if Ol’ Paint doesn’t win you’ll always be able to enjoy him in a hamburger from a fast food joint in a few weeks and/or feed him to your cat. We keep getting told that the race is 'good for the economy', but I fail to see how giving some SP bookie $200 and never seeing him again is good for my economy.
People always have the ‘inside running’, the ‘late mail’ or the ‘dope’ on who’s going to win. Frankly unless your name is Bart Cummings or you have details on the reincarnation of Seabiscuit or Phar Lap shut the fuck up. You’ve got nothing to tell me that I’m going to take notice of. You can bash your form guide right up your chute. I could care less what horse David Hayes trains or if the track is heavy. I couldn’t give a shit what some pissed up Lunchtime O’Booze told you in the TAB – you have no idea what you’re talking about. Put all your money on the grey horse for all I care – it’s probably more logical that way. If there was a bright Ferrari red horse I’d bet on him because, as we all know, red things go faster.
Most people do the right thing and just skive the day away on a false sickie and don’t bother coming into work. Other workplaces have parties, which means that anywhere from five people to everyone in the office and a homeless guy waiting outside begin to organise the luncheons, sweeps, drinks and stupid hats from 8:00am. By the time the race is finished, well everyone wants to talk about it, eat all the food, drink all the drink and are generally too drunk to do anything, plus it’s nearly 3:30, which means it’s nearly 5:00pm so what the shit? Might as well leave early and be done with it and face the saucepan to the face from ‘Er Indoors.
I’d love to see the numbers on inter-office procreation during the Melbourne Cup. I know I’ve been at workplaces where people are so drunk by the time the race is on that they suddenly feel the urge to reproduce, loudly and violently in some backroom or on a desk with any number of random people. That’s got to be worth an iron to the skull as well, at the very least. Still, what it all adds up to is a day wasted, and longer, if the hangovers are anything to go by. Most people, depending on the level of loathing for the workplace or overall depression begin shoving the booze and food down their necks like gannets at around 10:am. And don’t dare challenge this; after all, as has been pointed out to me, it’s Un-Australian not to participate in these events.
So wear your stupid hats, allow your tits to fall out of your dress, get drunk, get beaten up, get sexually assaulted, get abused - do anything you want, just be sure NOT to wach the race while you drink cheap booze and eat two day old seafood. Make yourself look like the biggest dickhead on the planet on national television, spend all your life savings and frankly ruin your life. It’s not about the race anymore, it’s about the event. And if you don’t believe me, without looking, name me the last five winners of the Melbourne Cup.
Can’t do it, can you. Unless your name is Bart Cummings...and I doubt it is.