SASSY TOWN FOLLIES by Felicity Appleton, no. 8 February 25

At The Races

I ran into Heather while looking through the opaques in David Jones’ hosiery department on Thursday. It was lunchtime. She’d just been offered tickets to the races by one of the marketing guys at her work and was looking for someone to take.

I jumped at the chance. Love the races. We decided to make a plan at Friday drinks.

But a plan wasn’t necessary. It was the same as always. Meet at Heather’s aunty Sinead’s flat, which is five minutes away from the racecourse, at Midday on Saturday. Sinead’s an artist, who works with found objects, and she also collects banned books from the 1950s. Her place is like a museum, but she’s never there. She spends most of her time at the house she shares with new husband, and property developer, Enzo in the Southern Highlands. Sinead lets Heather use the Sydney flat whenever she needs it, which used to be all the time when we were teenagers – I kissed my first boy there, and drank my first beer, before I realised that beer is smelly and tastes horrible.

And so we sipped Sinead’s Krug – her fridge is always well-stocked with the basics – ate pate on Melba toast, and frocked up. It’s permissible to miss the first race or two, but we worked quickly to get ready. Heels, proper racewear, not the party frock or nightclub outfit that you see some girls in at the races, and as it was cold and rainy we both wore stoles which matched our headwear: Heather’s a lilac pillbox and mine a fascinator which complemented the black lace around my shoulders.

As soon as we arrived we put on a bet each and in a few minutes were down near the mounting enclosure to get a better look at the people and the horses. The rain got heavier and huddling under the old golf umbrella we found in Sinead’s studio proved to be even less fun than it sounds, so we moved under cover. It was cold and getting colder, and the crowd was small and there was none of the usual excitement you get at the races. There were no cool people around. Instead there were older men wearing flannelette shirts with cigarettes in the top pocket, chain smoking and studying the form.

It felt wrong. I must admit the thought of going back to Sinead’s place and lying on the lounge in our trackies did occur to both of us, but then we saw them. It was the Marcuses. The three Marcuses. Three men who all went to Frencham, the same school Damon, my ex, went to, and who just happen to be all called Marcus. They became friends at school because of the coincidence, years ago, and now they even go on holidays together, with their latest girlfriends tagging along. All three are in insurance and they know all the best restaurants and bars. They are sometimes known as the Three Marcusteers.

This turned our frowns upside down. The Marcuses made us their guests and showed us into the Members area, where it is warm and dry and there are no chain smoking older men wearing flannelette shirts.

The Marcuses made sure our glasses were always full and they gave us good tips and we won quite a lot of money. Heather and I were a bit tipsy by the end of the day, but we kept our shoes on. We agreed to meet the Marcuses for brunch on the Sunday and after the last race went in searched of a venue like Bacall’s Champagne Bar, but we couldn’t find anywhere that good near the racetrack. Still, a day when you see the Marcuses is always a good day.

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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