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Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Why I hat Melbourne Cup

Photo AAP

Photo AAP

I can’t stand large groups of women in hats. They’re scary. It’s why I loathe Melbourne Cup. You put a hat on a woman and give her a glass of champagne and you’ve unleashed an evil more terrifying than the beast from 20,000 fathoms.

I don’t get the point of Melbourne Cup hats except to make drunk chicks look stupid. And from experience I can tell you, when we’re drunk we don’t need help to look stupid. It comes naturally. Stupid is easy when you’re pissed. The hats are just obnoxious. I mean, how do you even get in a taxi with that thing on your head? No one wants to be the person stuck behind the fat bitch in the big hat when the big race is on. Hats are passive aggressive. It’s all LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!

But worse are those creepy fascinator things. That’s not even a hat. It’s more like what happens when a proper hat has a hot date with a lawn mower. The more mangled the better. If it doesn’t have weird shit sticking out of it then people know you got it from Big W. No Melbourne Cup ensemble is complete without a fascinator, or as I call it, ‘Please don’t Emancipate Her’ on your scone. What the hell are they for? They don’t keep any sun off. Or rain. Nor do they look good. Or pick up wifi. You can’t keep tampons in them. Or money. Or your tips for the big race. So what’s the point? I think they call them fascinators because it’s fascinating that smart women willingly pin a mangled bit of feather and net to their head. Men wouldn’t wear stupid shit like that on their heads. Because they’ve got too much self-esteem. They’ve got stupid shit hanging between their legs, they’re not putting more on their heads.

Ironically I can see the point of a fascinator on a bloke because blokes generally aren’t that fascinating to start with. And a good number of them have some nasty bald spots that you could hide with said net sculpture pinned to noggin. Those hats are proof that when it comes to our feminist liberation from being decorative baubles on the patriarchal christmas tree we still have a long way to go.

So what’s the point of the fascinator and what is the relationship to horse racing? Maybe it makes the horses run fast. Away from the drunk women in hats is my guess. I am convinced that those hats actually lower your IQ. I’ve got a whole box full of them. I only have to look at them and I feel stupid.

Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest days on the comedy calendar. Every year I have to stand in front of a bunch of drunk women in hats and the only way to do that is to wear a hat too. If you don’t wear a stupid hat then they can’t see you.

It’s not our fault. The hat actually makes you want to behave badly. I put the hat on and I instantly want to wear a tight uncomfortable frock, I want to paint my nails, get botox and exchange my practical handbag for a small ludicrous ‘clutch’. I want to wear really really high shoes that I can’t walk in. Particularly when I’m drunk. I also want to drink champagne. Not just a little bit of champagne. I want to drink a shitload of the stuff. Even better if it’s pink. And when I put the hat on I can’t talk in a normal voice anymore. It goes all high-pitched, with rising inflection at the end of every sentence. As soon as I put the hat on I want to talk at the same time as everyone else. About nothing.

You can’t wear one of those hats and talk about climate change or politics or who you think should get the next Nobel peace prize. Nope. Those hats are for talking shit. And when you put them on you have this magical ability to talk shit non-stop exactly at the same time as every other idiot in a stupid hat. Mainly about your hats. It occurred to me that is the point of the hats. Because racing is cruel. And women are known for their empathy. Smart women would boycott stupid gatherings that saw a horse whipped until the finish line for no greater good than gambling. But with the hat on we don’t care. We’re just happy to make it home with our pants on.

OK ladies, here’s the challenge. Try Melbourne Cup without a hat next year and see how much you enjoy it. Or don’t. It’s up to you. BTW, anyone want a hat?


3 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Why I hat Melbourne Cup”

  1. Nola Firth says:

    I love it Mandy!!! It’s the best thing I’ve read about the Melb Cup and horse racing in years – made my morning!

  2. Mary Grant says:

    This is what Aussies Love. Getting really out of it. Making a stage of themselves. Having a go at the punts. Making it a BIG DAY OUT THERE. That’s what the pics are for. Stage yourself. Be free to flaunt.. Get media.

    THE MELBOURNE CUP.

    Same race scene as in English Derby or some other.

  3. Paula Cordeiro says:

    Goodness Mary Grant, and I was here thinking that the Melbourne cup was all about gambling, animal cruelty and fund raising for wealthy farmers, and the alcohol industry.
    Ooops…
    Thank God for Mandy’s Soap Box.

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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