Melbourne Cup Day! - or Whip a Horse For Money Day!


Being Australian has grown in status enormously since back in the convict era. It's still reasonably exotic, and you could almost take it seriously if it weren't for occasions like Melbourne Cup Day.  A public holiday in the state of Victoria, an economically ridiculous concept, its 3 minute focus is premised on gambling, drunkenness, and animal cruelty. The fashion is unspeakable, rife with opportunities for women to be tarty coat hangers, and best left alone.

Oh, and before you think I'm just being a party pooper again, let me assure you.  There's been a whole lot of gambling going on in my family since before you were born. My grandfather owned racehorses. I spent many Saturdays of my younger years, Best Bets in tow, with my much older brother in the thick smoke filled TAB's of Australia listening to grown men mumble amongst themselves and shhhh as the race started. and then call out "TTSSSS" "TSSSSSS" during the race. It is a sound I have never heard outside of racing, and it warms my heart as I think back upon my childhood.  I loved a good day out at the track as the next 7 year old.  I thought everyone had a bookie.

No, there's nothing we like better in my extended family than a good gamble. But as a nation that is desperately striving, like Naomi Watts did with Nicole Kidman's shadow, to be taken seriously in the world, why reinforce the drunken neanderthal stereotype again? There's lovable larrikin and then there's just idiot.

The animal cruelty involved is not something I'm cracking open a Foster's over myself. Weren't we all running around hysterical about the sheep on the boats? Read more here about the ways Victoria knows better but doesn't care. As the author says, "You cannot love horses and support horseracing."

Why do cheer on the competitive whipping of such fine creatures by short men with eating disorders? Gambling. The government makes billions. What a great day of revenue it is for them.

Never mind the glaring fact that Australia has 20% of the world's poker machines. Gambling is enormous and so is problem gambling.  It's a massive employment, family and community issue. Like alcohol abuse. There is the expectation though, on Melbourne Cup Day upon each and every citizen to drink and gamble, the more excessively, the better. Bosses EXPECT their staff to be ill or absent the day after. Why would there be all these social sanctions on getting drunk and blowing your money every other day, except the 1st Tuesday in November?

Except, it's the same for ANZAC Day, too, only with out the barbarism. Also Australia Day. New Year's Eve/Day and that week if not most of January. And in some families, Christmas and Easter. How confusing for the alkies and the pensioners.

But what about the sex addicts or the crackheads who want a day too?  How come only the drunks and the gamblers get a special day? There's no equality in this land.