Got out of the office twice this week, in the name of something faintly resembling real journalism.
On the first trip, I saw wasted, starving people in strange coloured clothing perform a strange, dangerous dance before an adoring audience. On the second trip, I saw exactly the same thing.
My trips were to Fashion Week and the TAB.
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Bullfighting is sick, stupid and cruel. About 25 years ago while living in Mexico I was invited by a bunch of schoolmates on a road trip to a town called Tezuitlan in the Sierra Madre mountains, which is famous for its annual bullfighting festival.
I declined the invitation, telling my mates that while I respected their traditions, bullfighting wasn’t for me. Whatever, gringo, they replied, rolling their eyes at my softness, and saying I was welcome to spend the school holidays kicking around at home on my own, while they loaded the car with beer and tequila and spent three days partying in the mountains
Not a bad point that. Bugger it, I’m in.
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We’re told that there are few things more enjoyable than a day at the races. Associated with the kind of devil-may-care japery that allows one to don a fine hat and drink bubbly before midday, racedays support that fine Australian tradition of shirking work in order to yell loudly at something somewhat sporty.
We frock up, we have a tipple and we take a punt. No one wears thongs.
On the surface, it all appears quite lovely and so terribly, terribly civilised.
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“Barbaric”, “cruel” and “blood sport”. Three of the typically sensationalist slogans that anti-jumps racing protest groups are likely to bandy about over the next few days of Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival.
Why? Because Warrnambool’s famous annual event features jumps racing.
Jumps racing’s reputation has taken a pounding in recent years. Every incident represents an easy target for protest groups and a similarly easy headline for the mainstream media.
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Yesterday, I woke up, dynamited a few fish down the river and shone my magnifying glass on some ants. But the critter toll wasn’t high enough for my sadistic needs, so I tuned into Sky Racing and watched the jumps racing at Warrnambool.
And wouldn’t you know it, a horse was killed in the very first race. Its name was Shine the Armour. It should have been called Polish the Turd, because that’s what racing authorities have done with this sick, brutal so-called sport.
In 2009, after a comprehensive review, it was announced that jumps racing was to be banned in Victoria from 2010 onwards. What happened next quite simply defies all of the logic which normally prevails in public debate in Australia.
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