Back in Da Hood

November 7, 2006 at 4:24 am (Uncategorized)

And just like that, the holiday is over. Hard to believe, really, but the second we got home, Italy and our stop-over in Tokyo both receded like a quickly forgotten, early morning dream. What is it about a return to the familiar that compresses travel in this way? Whilst we were in Italy, the passing of time seemed almost languid; now that we’re back, I feel that surely we’ve not even left yet…

More about the trip later.

I know we’re back in Sydney because today has all the ultimate hallmarks of Melbourne Cup Day, the day that “stops the nation.” Australians love gambling. Love it. Give us an excuse to burn a pile of cash and we’re all over it like blowflies on a dog turd. If a predisposition to gambling addiction is genetic, then Australians, not just Tasmanians, are all closely related. And today is one of gambling’s big days, even though the race itself is over in…I don’t really know, but it’s quick. A minute, maybe two. Blink and I’ll miss it. Again.

Some people in my neighbourhood kicked off the day with a champagne breakfast, decked out in all their finery by nine – men in improbable sunglasses, suits and funky ties, women in fabulous frocks and “fascinators,” the truly hysterical word that describes dangly, sparkly, feathery, highly flammable pieces of crap hanging from their heads. Some prefer to wear spectacular hats. All wear Sex and the City heels, which could safely be called Sex on the Track given the annual circulation of post-Melbourne Cup photos of some poor drunken dolly rolling around in the mud with some heavily boozed “gentleman.” His pants are always still around his ankles and his shoes are always still on. His face is always obscured; hers never is. It is one of those inevitabilities like rain after a car wash, bird shit streaking down the laundry left hanging on the line. And people say Australia is a cultural wasteland…a WASTED land, I grant you, but a wasteland? I think not. Melbourne Cup Day is a cultural education one will never forget, if one can remember any of it by the time it’s all over.

It’s four minutes ’til race time. I am sitting this one out on account of my hideous jet lag, but the internal pull to the pub is palpable, and it is only my abject disinterest in gambling stopping me from running to the nearest TV screen to catch the hoofs and bloodlust of our most famous horse race. Giddy up, horsey! Aaaaand….they’re off!


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