is known to most Australians as "Melbourne Cup Day". It is some sort of big horse race somewhere in Victoria. It is almost, but not quite, a public holiday.
I am not interested. I do not like horse racing. I do not consider it a "sport". Telling me "but the horses like doing it" is not going to convince me. Of course it is referred to as "the horse racing industry" and, at least in South Australia, it seems to get government funding as well. I object.
I also object to the over indulgence which goes with the entire day - all the "Melbourne Cup lunches" with the new outfits and the outrageous hats (worn once and at great expense).
I spent a year living in Melbourne. I did some postgraduate work at a university there. The university scheduled examinations on Melbourne Cup Day. Schools scheduled (and still schedule) exams on that day. It is clear that it is not important to everyone but a news item indicated that it costs the nation a lot in missed output - $4m or was it $4bn? I do not know, even the first is far too much. I just feel sorry for the horses.
There are pages and pages in the paper again today - all devoted to this one horse race. There is, according to the media, only one possible winner. I skipped all this and headed for other things.
There was an equally disturbing story about a new sort of Barbie doll with, of all things, a camera in it so that little girls can film themselves playing. The video thus taken can be uploaded and edited and put on internet sites like Youtube. I am with the psychologists who are more than a little disturbed by this. I am disturbed by Barbie dolls. This new development disturbs me even more. It is the perfect tool for paedophiles. Why do people invent these sort of things? Why do shops stock them? Why do adults succumb to the pressures and buy them?
Clearing the old newspapers out to the recycle bin I saw a photograph of something very different. It is the picture of a mother and her two young children. My father and I happen to know them. She is a stay-at-home mother, at least until the children go to school. They were in their small garden. It was a short piece about their trip to the local garden centre and how they enjoyed gardening as a family activity. They will not be attending any Melbourne Cup events. The little girl may never have a Barbie doll, certainly will never have one with a camera in the neck. They looked happy.