Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fascinating, just fascinating

The first Tuesday of November is a public holiday in Victoria. The horse racing season officially starts with a series of races over the weekend, culminating in the race for the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday. This race is 150 years old, and it's one of the biggest social and fashion events of the year. A great excuse to drink your head off and party away. Fortunes are won and lost. It's a gambling extravaganza, more than the usual, which is constant, with racing info and betting available in all the local Sports Clubs and race info in all the papers. Horses are scratched at the last minute, leading to despair on the part of owners and trainers. Owners are fined for profanity when describing the loss of their hopes and dreams. It's a spectacle, in more ways than one. The RSPCA is trying to ban the use of the whip, and recently, guidelines were introduced to limit the number of times a jockey can use the whip to spur the horse on to the finish. A member of the royal family appears at the event every year. Yes, Australia had hopes to become a republic, but the referendum failed, and they want their royals to be here, to be seen. Mind you, the Opposition leader was burbling on about it yesterday, probably trying to get himself into the news again. This year's royal was Zara Phillips, Anne's daughter, a horsewoman with aspirations for the English team for the next Olympics.

One of the most important fashion items in use is called the fascinator. This is a tiny, fluffy, feathery, artfully created and designed piece of fashion perched on the side or top of a woman's head. We saw a little feathery item being promoted for the low, low cost of $499. Yes, the GFC is a big deal and the recession that hit the world earlier this year also hit Australia. People have lost jobs. But fashion is huge and it's expensive, especially for this event. There was much discussion regarding Zara's fashion look, which was tasteful, but perhaps the neckline of her dress didn't suit her as another look might have. The fascinators are for women, but men have to meet a certain fashion standard as well. Some posed in women's clothing for Oaks Day, which takes place the day after the Melbourne Cup and is an event restricted to women, but they still weren't invited in.

Back to Flemington, for Cup Day. A variety of businesses host marquees, the covered tent where you go to see and be seen. Tickets are a must. The Emirates (airlines) marquee was the big hit this year. A fashionista on the outs (last seen throwing rocks at her ex-boyfriend, the footie star's, house) was turned away at the door -- gasp -- an event faithfully recorded in the local rag. She unsuccessfully argued with the door b**ch (this is a common term in Australia, believe it or not) that she should enter. Her dress was a bit clingy, it was reported, more for a night out, not the Cup. Lavazza had a great marquee (coffee is big here!), as did Myer (fashion, retail). All required invites. The masses hang out on the grounds, in the stands, and tried to balance on their stilettos whilst holding their champagne flutes and not getting the heels stuck in the turf.

Who won the big race? Shocking won. This horse is owned by a man from north Queensland, who made a bit of money with his earth moving business and thought he would splash out on a horse. Named it Shocking for the headlines when he won. And win he did, in a classic, come from behind, finish, making all his fans happy!


Penny Williams said...

Hey there, I'm enjoying your blog - you've visited some places I haven't managed to get to yet! I am originally from the Sunshine Coast - I hope you get there sometime in your travels. I've been thinking about your dilemma with the Sticky fig cookies - is there too much or not enough ginger? Are you using ground or glace ginger? If you haven't thought of this already - try adding some mixed spice and ground cloves. It will enhance the ginger flavour, and add some depth....Anyway, I hope I can help some - and thanks for the link from your site :)

Penny Williams said...

Oh, and Byron Bay Coookie Company cookies are the absolute best! I've been trying for ages to replicate their gluten free lemon and macadamia shortbread :)