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14 June 2016

We're Off to the Races!

Brisbane Stradbroke

When I was little, my favourite movie in the whole wide world was My Fair Lady. I mean, can you get much better than Gershwin, Audrey Hepburn and enormous hats? No friends, you can not.

So, ever since we moved to London I've been impatiently waiting for the moment that I'd get to wear one of those fancy hats (aka a fascinator). Ironically, it hasn't happened until we came to Australia.

Jon's colleague Doria is a horseracing fiend. She is unabashedly fond of gambling (this woman seriously has to be one of the luckiest people I know... she ALWAYS seems to win) and so she and her husband bought members-only passes to the seasonal horse races. She invited us to take two of her guest passes to come and to the Stradbroke Day races, which meant dressing up and finally getting to buy one of those hats!

When I went to the Queenstreet Mall to buy one, I almost had a heart attack. I found the clearance rack at Macy's and discovered this:

price of fancy hat

Apart from being one of the ugliest hats I've ever seen, it was on sale for $539 -- which I suppose would be a pretty good deal for a hat which was originally $899. I had no idea they were going to be so expensive.

But I wasn't about to let a little thing like a grand stand between myself and a good hat. I scoured the craft supply store, target and the dollar store until I had everything I needed to make my fascinator for just $18. And I have to say, I'm pretty please with how the old girl turned out.

This triumph was only made better when I found my dress for just $21 at the outlet mall! Looks like Doria isn't the only lucky one around here...

Brisbane Horse race

The day of the races had beautiful weather and a million glorious hats.

Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival

Below is Jon with Doria and her husband Gary. This is inside the members-only area while everyone was staring up at the screen to find out the lineup of winners from the last race.

Brisbane Stradbroke Race
Horse Racing Australia
Marie Antoinette Costume

This race was a part of a larger set of races called Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, so there were lots of fun costumes and people around, like this Marie Antoinette and several women on stilts (I have a photo farther down).

Brisbane Winter Races

We watched most of the races from the stands, and although we didn't make any financial bets, Jon and I picked our horses and made bets with chores around the house. Jon was a bit more discerning with his choices, but I just picked my horses based on which one had the most inappropriate name.

On the big daddy race (number nine - THE Stradbroke Day race), I picked "Under the Lou" to win. I realised that my horse was actually named "Under the Louvre" about a minute before the race started, which was a much less improper name than I would have liked, but I as I didn't have enough time to choose another one, I kept my bet with Jon. Let's just say, Jon had to wash the dishes that night (my lucky streak is still going strong!)
Horse Racing Winners
Carnival Baby
Brisbane Jockey

All told it was a really fun day with good food and lots of excitement. It was especially fun, since we were in the posh seats, to see the owners when their horses won. They'd scream a long strain of totally misplaced profanities and grab whomever was closest and kiss them. This happened multiple times, and it never got any less funny.

After the races, we met up with some of our married-without-kids friends for a dinner party and games. They introduced us to this really fun card game called "Exploding Kittens." I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Dinner party brisbane

Weirdly, it was later that night that the most exciting stuff happened. After we put the ear plugs in and went to sleep, I woke up around 5am as one of the plugs had come out.

A couple was walking down the alley just below our flat. It became clear that the guy had had his wallet and phone stolen (and presumably the girl hadn't brought hers with her). The girl was giving this guy some of the most venomous verbal abuse I've heard in my life. It was pretty unrelenting... and it pushed the guy from drunken ambivalence to self loathing pretty easily. Then almost without warning, his anger transferred from himself to her.

"Stop it... stop it!" she started saying to him as he was clearly starting to get physical with her. Then with panic in her voice, "stop... stop! STOP IT! Stop hurting me! Someone help me! SOMEONE HELP ME!!"

I bolted out of bed and pushed open the balcony door.

"STOP!" I yelled as though I somehow possessed the omnipotent power to stop him with my words... this was followed by an awkward pause as I realised I hadn't really thought things through... then, "I'M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE!"

The girl rushed off and the guy looked up at me as if suddenly woken up. "Um... thank you." he said before turning to follow the girl.

I then called the cops, who apparently didn't actually listen to the report, but instead of going to the alleyway, they showed up at our place a half hour later thinking Jon and I were having a domestic.

It was the oddest experience, partially because I'd never actually called the police on someone, but also because of the earnest "thank you" I'd gotten from the guy. There is, of course, NEVER an excuse for physical violence, but I have to think that the combination of alcohol and stress caused this guy to do something he never would have ordinarily done.

Either way, I'm glad he was stopped. Hopefully the two got home safely and they wake up in the morning ready to make some positive life changes. One can hope, right?

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