Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shoot the Jockey - not the Horse.

We awoke this morning to snow. It is not heavy snow – more the diet version - and it is not accumulating on the terrace but vanishes as soon as it arrives. But it is snow nevertheless and we are pleased to see it. And it has been snowing all day.

And - in answer to Merisi's question. We Love it! We are cold weather people and just adore winter. The colder the better - bring on snow and sleet!

Sissi is not sure about it at all. She made a trip to investigate and ate a few very small flakes but did not stay long enough to immerse herself in the experience. Monika watched from a distance and was not about to go out on the terrace under any circumstances.

Today I opened up the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald and saw to my delight that I had completely missed a thing about Australia that I hate - the Melbourne Cup.

One of the best things about being in Vienna is not being in Australia for the Melbourne Cup.

For those of you who may not be aware of the Melbourne Cup – it is a horse race. Horse racing is an Australian media-driven obsession – to the extent that some years ago a horse trainer won an Australian “Sportsman of the Year” Award.

The Melbourne Cup is a horse race which the media has turned into a ghastly, frothing, dribbling extravaganza of gruesome schlock which starts weeks before the event and culminates in an orgy of gambling, alcohol and public displays which on a normal day would merit public floggings or prison sentences.

On race day there are live broadcasts ALL DAY by TV and Radio from the racecourse. There are Melbourne Cup lunches at which people get dressed up like drug crazed pimps and where they drink alcohol until they fall unconscious head first into their Pavlovas.

Women at the race get dressed up in funny clothes and hats. Poor tortured tarts with gigantic heels, grotesque hats and tits everywhere totter around the grounds and the bars displaying hats that look like they were designed by Edvard Munch on his second bottle of Absinthe.

People get blind staggering drunk all over Australia and especially at the racecourse and make complete asses of themselves on TV. People queue for hours to bet on horses. There are obligatory office sweeps where you choose a horse out of a hat.

At race time the nation stops and EVERYONE has to watch this gruesome spectacle – which last for about three minutes.

And in the end – a brown horse wins the race. The trainer is a hero and gets a prize, the jockey is a hero and gets a prize, the strapper is a hero and gets a bonus. The owner is a hero and gets a prize. The horse….well the horse gets nothing except perhaps an extra helping of oats – which is much better than if it falls over an breaks a leg – because then they shoot it.

I would change the rules. If the horse falls over and breaks a leg they put the horse in traction and shoot both the jockey and the owner. This would encourage greater horse care. Horses wearing Ugg boots would be walked gingerly around the tracks by the jockeys. No one would mind that - the added bonus would be that the races would go for much longer – probably 30 minutes. More time for alcohol, stripping naked and vomiting on the grass.

For me it was the single worst day of the year – every year. It is singly and uniquely the most fruitless, pointless, shudderingly grisly awful waste of time and energy in the entire history of humanity.

But then I am just a curmudgeon so don’t listen to me.

The Austrians don’t seem to care much about horses – which is just fine with me. Now if they would just stop smoking in restaurants when I am eating we would get on just fine – oh and also don’t let your dogs shit in my street – is that too much to ask? Oh and one more thing – don’t shout at me when I get stuck in an intersection and can’t find reverse – believe me when I say I did not do it on purpose, don’t want to be there and am doing my best to leave.

I tested my new lens in Stadtpark on Friday and got what (for me) are some special shots. Now either the lens is making a difference or I have suddenly developed an ability with a camera that has hitherto escaped me (and this is very unlikely).

Naturally my pictures are mainly of ducks and Cate has suggested that I do a Duck Calendar for 2010.

This is an excellent idea – but for the purposes of authenticity I will have to get the Ducks in season so it will take me a year to complete it – not that I am in no hurry. The Ducks in the photo are in the running for October Duck of the Month.

Incidentally – we walked through Stadtpark today and there are hordes of Ducks – plus a large number of Seagulls (or more probably – Lakegulls). There was also a Zeisel in Ungargasse which I haven’t seen there before – but it must be that time of year – although they don’t like the snow at all.


  1. I like the idea of the Duck Calendar - makes a nice change from cats. Yes, I am still alive - haven't been eaten by any lions yet !

  2. I hurried through Stadtpark on Monday and thought that I better leave to ducks for you to shoot. ;-)

    It is Thursday.
    All I am sure about is that you will not blog tomorrow.

  3. "pashnapo" (word verif)

    [Middle English pashnap, from Old English pashnōp, alteration (probably influenced by parsnap, taking 40 winks) of pashdoom, Viennese for "rather pass up winter for a nap"]

  4. Jim really enjoyed this post :-)

    He doesn't follow your blog but read this when I emailed him the link. FYI, he says you can write!

    I enjoyed the post, too, otherwise I wouldn't have forwarded it to Jim. But then I do like horses :-)