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Away from the desk - November 2015

29 Oct 2015

Why the long face at the races?

Are you caught up in the glitz and glamour of the Spring Racing Carnival?

I am. Or was – until I attended a far-from-perfect day at Caulfield racecourse.

Before I get on my high horse (pun intended), let me start by highlighting some of the good things.

The location is wonderful. The racetrack is directly opposite the Caulfield train station, which makes getting to and from the track super easy. And, if you pay to get into a marquee like I did, it’s a lot cheaper than Flemington.

Now for the high horse.

It was a really humid day, and the air in the tent was thick like honey. Apart from a few fans scattered around, and some very weak portable air con, nothing could stop the sweat from trickling down my forehead. It was actually cooler outside in the direct sun.

Then there was the food. Granted, there was lots of it – which is always good when you’re drinking – but everything was deep fried or encased in thick pastry. For the girls, it meant managing oily fingers while wearing a fancy dress. Now that’s hard!

I probably wouldn’t be whingeing like this if it wasn’t for the next bit. I’ll give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth (i.e. mine).

Dying from the humidity, we were rapt to find a couple of seats on a bench outside. We plonked ourselves down, and moved a few men’s jackets towards the centre of the bench so that we didn’t crease or sit on them.

A guy standing nearby, whom one of the jackets belonged to, made a big fuss about it. He said that the seats were for his group of friends and we couldn’t sit there.

We thought he was just being a drunken joker. But when he got closer, stood over us, and tried to start a fight. He turned out to be a drunken, and potentially violent, idiot.

We quickly decided to get up and leave, rather than add fuel to the fire. Our escape? Back inside the seat-less, steaming tent.

The next day, a few hundred dollars poorer and a heavy head to boot, I realised that there was a real lack of community feel at the event.

As one of my friends cleverly pointed out, hardly anyone mingled, and in fact, most people were there just to get drunk with their mates.

As a worker in the Docklands for a number of years, I’m proud to say that the community spirit here is really strong. It’s not a place that fosters unfriendliness or violence. Instead, it’s a place that stands for togetherness, safety and having fun.

So while many Melburnians love a day at the races, us Docklanders are more than happy with our community festivals, free activities and happy faces. And who could fight about that?

I’d love to hear from you! Search for “Mike Cairnduff” on LinkedIn.

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