Friday, November 13, 2009

Knowledge November - Day 14The Cheap Seats

I was chatting to a father of a friend of Sapphire’s. We might live in the same neighbourhood, but it’s a small triangular-shaped pocket that consists of four towering blocks of Housing Commission flats and several million dollar-plus heritage listed mansions.

As such, we can see the
Mysterious Monolith atop tower four from our place, but David is a throw of a tennis ball away from Cashed Up Crescent.

I mentioned that I had been invited to Ladies/Oaks Day at Flemington racecourse and was looking forward to going.

“What marquee will be you be in?” he asked.

I laughed and said, “Huh, that’ll be the day – nope, I’m in general admission, hoping for a patch of grass to lay down the picnic blanket.”

As I walked home with Sapphire, it dawned on me that I’m never going to be the girl (okay, woman) who’ll get to see the grand final in a corporate box, wear the coveted wrist band ID for entry into the Melbourne Cup birdcage extravaganza or be listed as a VIP on any guest list.

Growing up in a country town with a school teacher father and home-based and later-administrator mother gave us limited opportunities for anything other than sport, BBQs and school fund raising events. Mum recalls that the town had a social pecking order that featured doctors’ wives and parents whose children were packed off to boarding school but even they only got free note pads and syringe covers as gifts in the seventies.

I’ve never travelled business class let alone first and still feel a bit of a thrill when we’re on holiday as a family and Love Chunks uses his Qantas Club card (so that they don’t have to pay for a business class ticket when he flies overseas for work) and we get to go in and snack away to our hearts’ content.

My two years in London may have given me loads of opportunities to see many West End shows but all were paid for through the half-price ticket booth bought the same afternoon in Leicester Square or only cost five quid. All seats were situated so far up my knees quivered uncertainly if I leaned too far forward over the rail to see more than the top of the backdrop.

There have been freebie movies and comedy shows but the payment required has been the necessity to produce a reasonably eloquent written account of it afterwards. Books too have been enjoyed without any damage to my wallet but they tend to be an ‘Uncorrected Proof Copy For Promotional Use Only’ with a thin cover that creases easily and doesn’t add any colour or sophistication to my cheap pine bookshelves.

I was never a hot young chick that the bouncers waved through ahead of the line or dated anyone with access to a corporate box. Love Chunks can get slightly discounted weather bureau calendars but that’s about as far as his access to freebies and glitz extends.

So, on Oaks Day we dressed up, took along our nibbly things, had sensible shoes on to replace our heels when needed and set a ten dollar betting budget for the afternoon.

My shoulder wasn’t tapped to enter Myer’s Fashions on the Field; Rebecca Twigley didn’t rush over to interview me as I sashayed past with my blastic bottle of Yellowglen to enquire about the brand of my dress ($69 from Rockman’s as it happens) and none of my horses paid off the mortgage or required a return visit to the TAB.

In General Admission I instead met Ruprecht's Australian cousin, two women with hats taller than their own bodies, a bloke with the exact same hat as mine (my Mum's actually) that he snaffled from his sister, applauded a trilby-wearing bloke in pointy white shoes as he was shuffled off to the divvy van (the only one we saw for the entire day), had a chat with the winner of Best Shoes of the Oaks (yes, it's a separate category) in her $2900 Dolce and Gabbanas, photographed a young hopeful wearing a dress made out of pig face and turf grass and enjoyed Carmel's home made chicken wings with only the rose bushes separating us from the horsies.

I hope that I made my mother proud, who when she loaned me her hat and earrings said smiling, "Now I don't want to see photos of you getting drunk in the car park and being splashed all over the news and in those nasty My Face Web pages, you hear?"

Yep. I returned home sober, non-sunburned, un-arrested and ten bucks poorer and in time to meet up with Sapphire for the 3.30pm after school pick up. It was great fun.


Anonymous said...

like you, I have always had to go for the cheap tickets, being brought up as one of seven on a council estate made you realise the important things in life, it is nice to experience a bit of luxury, including my one trip into a directors box at GTFC, but being with the real people means I can be myself and not put on any false pretences. Glad you enjoyed your day I have just been to the pub with some friends had a great laugh and bought a round of four drinks for less than £6 that is what I call luxury


myninjacockle said...

I can usually accept that I'll never be in a corporate box or have a company car.

It does make it more tricky when my brother rings gloatingly to advise me he got an invite to the launch of the playboy calendar.

drb said...

hey, sapph may be the ticket to all those fanzy panzy stuff!

ashleigh said...

Have you noticed that those who don't need it (because they can afford it) are the ones who always score the freebies?

Something not right in all that.

River said...

Nice shoes. Yours? Shame about the mortgage, better luck next year?
I've never been to any of the "big" races, but my brother and I often went to the trotting at Port Pirie, held at night times. We'd wander around scavenging coke bottles for the refunds, waiting for the punters to get drunk enough to start dropping money or betting tickets. As soon as the "dropee" moved on we'd scoop up the fallen, split the cash and stash the tickets in my pocket. Next day we'd hand the tickets to Dad who'd take them to the TAB to check if any were winners. None of them ever were.

Cat J B said...

Ooh, the Qantas club, my hubby was in for a while thanks to work, alas, no longer.

I actually did fly business class once....the lovely family I sometimes nanny for flew me (and hubby....before kids) up to their usual summer holiday spot on the coast to give them down time from their lil darlings.
And funnily enough, I've had corporate box tickets from the same family to a couple of major sporting events. Unwanted ones from his BigWig business office, but who's looking at those details? :)

Kath Lockett said...

Pub on, Nutty - six quid for a round of jollies sounds perfect to me.

Myninj, now your brother is just being greedy!

drb - let's hope so - she'll need friends and lovers in high places because her family sure aint.

I coudln't agree more, Ashleigh. Just ONCE I'd love a free first class flight overseas (preferably to Europe or NYC) - surely my day will come?

River, you're a winner regardless and yes, they're my 'sensible' shoes, taken by me leaning back and almost lying on top of the camembert and cracker platter of the picnic blanket behind me.

CatJB, if you're given 'em, take 'em and enjoy 'em!