Cup runneth over

Yesterday was Melbourne Cup day. I peaked with the Melbourne Cup in 1982, when I was 5 years old. I won with a horse I picked, Kiwi, and have never won on it since. It’s quite an institution in  Australia “The race that stops a nation” with lunches and events being held everywhere giving everyone an excuse to blow money and get pissed.

I remember about 5 years ago now Rob and I were coming home from an afternoon spent at the pub on Melbourne Cup day when we came into our (pretty dodgy) street where we lived in Darlinghurst. We stumbled across a high heel and then about 10 metres away a woman in her early thirties stumbling down the road with the other heel on. We could have just walked into our house that was right there but  we wanted to just check on her. She was SO drunk. Cranky at us one minute then crying that we were “the best couple ever and why couldn’t she find someone as lovely as Rob” but then “FUCK YOU ROB” a few seconds later. It was kind of funny. We had to ask permission to open her wallet to get her licence to see where she lived and then walked her a few blocks away to her apartment all the while going through the roller coaster of abuse and love being thrown at us. We got her to the front door and then thought she would be fine only to wait a few moments to see her wander off down the street again. I eventually took the key out of her bag, took her upstairs to her house where I opened a complete stranger’s door, placed her on the couch with a blanket over her and locked the door behind us as we left.
I often wonder what she thought when she woke up the next morning. Or if she thought at all. Or if we didn’t stop. At least she didn’t lose a shoe right?
Cup day for me now doesn’t really hold much appeal. I am the first person to put my hand up to some celebratory drinks mid week but when it comes to Cup day, when everyone is doing it, it just feels a little, I don’t know. Something. All that money. All just thrown away.
I worked yesterday at our local cafe holding one such lunch. I was helping out a friend who was stuck for staff and I had a great time working with friends and doing something I hadn’t done in a long time – be a waitress! I had renewed respect for people who work so bloody hard in hospitality for a dollar. Hats off to you all.

My friend Eden is off to India next week with World Vision. Imagine everyone that put on a bet yesterday, no matter how big or small, just threw one dollar to something other than horses running around a track. On the one day. I’m not trying to be political, or save the world, or tell people what to do with their money, but all that waste, it all just doesn’t sit well with me. Just because it’s something that we’ve always done doesn’t make it the right thing to do is it? I have to say the stories out of Johns College at Sydney Uni this week have put an end to that argument.

I don’t have the answers, but I have lots of questions floating around my head and stomach today.


  1. You nailed it. I had a very non-Cup usual Tuesday here with drop offs and pick up as per the usual. I realised as I walked past the TAB that I had no idea which horses were even running, and with that I had no desire to throw away $10. I have to say I do love going to the races though! I hate to think how much the government made yesterday between the Cup and the Lotto.

  2. Slayed me with this one, BabyMac. Firstly I was laughing at that woman you put to bed, because that’s how bad I used to get drunk every day of my twenties. Then I cried because you put her back in her house so tenderly and thoughtfully, because what if something terrible was about to happen to her?

    Then I realised that for the first time of my adult life I didn’t put a bet on yesterday, and if i’d picked one off the bat it WOULD have been the Moon one because I have a strong affiliation with the moon ever since Jim died and took half of it with him.

    Then I thought what a good friend you are because you could not pay me enough money to ever, ever be a waitress again. I was a SHIT waitress.

    And THEN you mention my trip to India, surprised me and made me cry because I don’t want to go. I’m even channeling Bev and doing all the cooking for my guys beforehand but my heart is still so sad (See: half moon) …. and I’m quite beside myself to be doing something so stupidly big again.

    I love you called the wastefulness of the Cup out, something I wanted to do on twitter yesterday but didn’t have the ovaries to. It’s just all spare money, sitting around.

    I love your blog. Your blog makes me want to pay attention to the details of my home, my house, my family. It feels so nice.


  3. We used to always have a bet on the Cup, but we haven’t for the last couple of years because it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe because we’ve grown up a bit more, we’ve got a family to feed and clothe, I’m just not into being wasteful with money. I think in the last few years the shine has been taken off the races because of all the drunken shenanigans that seem to go on there. I can’t believe people think it’s awesome to go and totally wasted and messy at the racetrack.

  4. I totally agree with you on the waste that happens on Cup day. People feel as though they should bet, even though they have no idea about what they are doing. I could not care less. The only good thing about Melbourne cup was (when I lived in Sydney)that when I was driving home from work at about 3pm, I could guarantee no traffic.

  5. hahaha holy snap beth – how can you be just one year older than me?! no offence, please don’t take offence, but i thought you were a little older… hmmm, maybe it’s because you’ve got kidlets… yeah, that could be it, i don’t have to a responsible grown up 🙂 hmm, funny perceptions we have, don’t we…

    totally agreeing with you on the uncomfyness of excess on seemingly unimportant things… without wanting to be too barhumbug about it.

  6. Beth, this post is beautiful. Like you are. I did do a Melbourne Cup lunch yesterday but kept myself fresh for the school pick-up which was just as well because Flynn had cleaned up in the 1C sweep, winning an eraser for pulling Green Moon out of the hat. He’ll be dining out on that one for the rest of his life, I think.

  7. I hear you re the wasted cash, that is how I feel about fireworks at new years. Good work on helping the drunk chick, I did a quick check of where I was five years ago and am pleased to report I was not her!

  8. That’s a great post Beth. I love Eden’s world vision trips…. They are great to watch on video. She goes through quite a bit over there.

  9. I quite like Cup Day but you have to be in the Zone for it.

    Hospitality workers deserve their tips!

    The John’s College stories are truly revolting and I am weeping for the future.

    And do not even get me started on the live sheep trade to Pakistan slaughter story.

  10. Love this, and you are totally right. I almost felt guilty yesterday because I could not give a toss about The Cup- just seems there is more in the bigger picture at the moment. I read your gorgeous blog all the time but have never commented before, just wanted to officially say hi and I SO hear you!!! X

  11. I used to love Cup Day – frocking up, getting pissed, blowing cash. Yesterday, at 37 weeks pregnant, I slept through the whole race and got annoyed at gorgeous 21-year-olds teetering through town without heels on. The waste doesn’t sit very well w me either anymore.

  12. I loved this post. You really captured why I seem to become more against the Cup each year as I get older. Plus I can’t bear to watch those gorgeous horses being whipped to run faster just to make someone more money.

    Your kindness to friends and strangers alike also rekindles my faith in humankind as well. What a beautiful read this was.

  13. It’s funny, coming from a family that is VERY big in it’s racing, I barely ever put money on the cup. I pick a horse to cheer on, but never actually outlay a bet. Clint tells me that the cup is the worst race day of the year. In saying that, small bets (like a grand total of $100 over an entire carnival) are put on most Saturdays, as it’s a hobby and passion. For me, cup day is that three minutes when the country collectively stops, I was really homesick for that yesterday. Where strangers who otherwise ignore each other laugh over which horse they backed or where they watched the race.

    I have had a similar feeling in my stomach and questions recently. Living in a country with such stark divides in wealth and where consumerism is the national sport is hard to swallow. The unbelievable pressure to buy, buy, buy is amazing. A country where you see Ferraris everywhere yet a person who works 12 hours a day, six days a week still can’t afford basic necessities.

  14. Love this post Beth. I’m with you on the cup..I had forgotten it was even on..spent the day in ignorant bliss until I heard the news on the radio at about 5.30. What a heart you have for helping others..a friend to all. As for Eden…she is just amazing..her blog makes me cry all the time..I hope she has a wonderful trip and I’m sure the people she meets will be blessed because of it. Annie M

  15. There was a horse race? LOL. I think the number one reason why the first Tuesday in November means nothing to us, is that we don’t have commercial TV. We have TV, but no commercial stations so we are unaware of the whole shabang. I agree though, the waste of money is just disgusting, but as they say, it’s tradition, it’s an institution, blah blah blah. You won’t find me in a flipp’n fascinator.

  16. I never place a bet on anything. I can’t stand Pokies, Keno or anything else gambling related but there is something about the Melbourne Cup for me. It’s the only day that I have any interest in horse racing and I think it’s the spectacle of it all. The beautiful horses, the gorgeous guys and girls all dressed in their finery and the love of the sport and event by the trainers, jockeys and owners. I can’t help get caught up in the excitement even if I am no where near the track or a lunchtime event. This year the best thing about it was seeing the local OOSH have to send an extra bus because there was a big group of mums” celebrating” at our local pub.

  17. I know what you mean, and I’ve only ever been to the races once and it was deadset daggy, may as well just have been at a local TAB. I still enjoy the excitement and festive feel and doing something like having a nice lunch because it’s a small pleasure in an otherwise moderately mundane existence. I guess there is shocking waste associated with lots of festive occasions these days but I still enjoy celebrating them. I usually think gambling is the devil but seem to make an exception for melb cup. Stupid really!

  18. I just can’t do drunk on that level……and the crowds! Yuk!!!
    I used to be a barmaid so very very pissed people aren’t my thing at all……
    I would rather donate my money to charity any day ;O)
    T xx

  19. I had some mommy friends over for afternoon tea…I like that the Cup was an excuse to catch up with my friends.

    As we watched it in our shirts that were still covered in toddler lunch and our cargo pants we all agreed that we wouldn’t change places with any of the single, childless twenty somethings we know who were either down in Melbourne or out at a fancy pants lunch in Brisbane.

    I do think that some traditions are important…as someone who lives far away from home, you miss those events that define your nation…but I agree with you about the waste and I wish they wouldn’t whip the horses!

  20. I used to have a small bet on the Cup each year but it seems to have lost its appeal to me of late. I have never been into horse racing anyway.
    I too think of the money that is wasted by people in Australia every day, not just on the Melbourne Cup, and agree with you that if everyone donated a dollar on one day of the year what a lot of good it could do for third world countries.
    Maybe out government come up with Give a Dollar Day and so some real good for a change without thinking of winning votes.

  21. Oh! Was it Melbourne Cup yesterday? Completely missed it.

  22. I agree with you Beth. We don’t do anything for Melbourne Cup day, well not anything horse related. No bets in this house. x

  23. I bet $2 on a horse, then went to a lunch to discuss how we could fund raise for a friends project. While we were discussing how we need $6000 per child for a year of education a group of very dressed up overly drunk women threw a bottle of unopened Moet Champagne on the ground smashing everywhere. Much laughter from the women. Silence from us, until my friend made the statement “the money for that Moet was probably equal to a weeks education just smashed on the ground”.

    Something just don’t seem right.

  24. Melb girl here…not all of us have a flutter, more a holiday and time spent with friends and family
    Happy to forward my monies to World Vision instead, timely reminder

  25. Great post. I too struggle with these kinds of questions. I also don’t have the answers. Funny thing is though that this weekend just gone I did attend a lovely high tea charity fundraiser. I did donate money to a group who are doing amazing things in this world for people in need and even after all that I still walked away from it feeling somewhat guilty that I’d won a prize, eaten a lot of cupcakes and listened to lovely live music. Even when the money is going to a great cause we still seem to have a way of making it about us, making it ‘fun’, eating alot of excess food. I’m sad that charities don’t seem to be able to just ask for money any more, they have to sell the idea in some form of a lovely event. They had a great speaker that really helped to raise awareness though which was very important and worthwhile. I don’t know what the answers are or how to get people to give with nothing in return….. Although ironically, isn’t that what betting mostly is……

  26. Fascinators! you failed to mention those silly things people put on their head instead of a hat. Yeah I always work through the Melbourne cup while everyone else is away at some tea being silly and placing $2 bets.

    Although i always liked the melbourne cup when I was at school cause we got off early…

    It’s the plight of our society…too much money and not enough sense.

  27. I think you can do Cup Day without being wasteful. Let’s not call in the fun police quite yet.

    While some of the videos and photos coming from Cup Day can be likened to the St John’s scandal (which is terrifying) for every one of those people, I’m sure there is another person who does Cup Day like me. I put on a pretty dress, buy a ticket in a $2 sweep and catch up with friends while drinking a couple of glasses of bubbles.

    I do like your idea of donating the same amount of money you bet to charity. Or maybe donating your winnings to charity. Sounds like a good idea for a campaign next year.

  28. I tend to agree with this lady, not a big fan of gambling, at. ALL. Cup day seems to get bigger and bigger every year and I seem to become more and more detached from it. I guess as a Mama, it loses a certain appeal too, as there’s no way you can get all dolled up and legless, when you’re on call 24/7. Seems to suit all those office types though… just ask my husband! xo

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