Friday, 30 March 2012

Conor visits Limerick Student Race Day. Conor gives a frank assessment.

I saw things like this at Limerick Student Race Day

I don't like horse racing. At all. It never appealed to me. Especially the betting side. I could see perhaps why people might fancy a flutter on a football match or a golf tournament but I could never understand what compelled people to risk money on animals. Animals are inconsistent, unpredictable and unkempt. Nevertheless, I decided to go along to the Limerick student race day. In the end, it was not the passive and docile horses that bugged me, it was the buffoonish and irritating students.

We took a bus to the racecourse and almost immediately I caught the whiff of irritation. Something told me that this would not be like a race-day, that it would be more akin to a giant nightclub. The bus journey was mercifully short and I was at this stage in high spirits as the racecourse is situated in a beautiful part of Limerick county that is distinctly rural but also close enough to the city that Thomond Park and St. John's Cathedral were visible. My brief merriment was interrupted however by people. Huh, people. You know those self-righteous blobs of meat that inhabit most parts of this Earth? Yeah them.

As I entered the racecourse proper it struck me that my preceding assessment of Limerick Student Race Day, sponsored by every idiot's favourite radio station SPIN South-West, was correct; it was, for all intents and purposes one big nightclub. The girls clambered around half-drunk, half encumbered by their impossibly high heels and the boys attempted to outdo each other in a game played by most men on nights out: "Let's see who can be the biggest macho dickhead?" Putrid, generic chart music blared through piercing speakers, the price of alcohol was exorbitantly high and a strong stench of fake tan pervaded through the air. One. Big. Nightclub. 

The event centre by the side of the racecourse is quite an impressive sight however. It's very imposing and thankfully navigable. It was half-empty at first so I had time and space to inspect the premises. What struck me most was the extravagantly priced food. A tenner for chicken curry and rice. €11.25 for a vegetarian stir-fry. €2.50 for a 99 cone. I had €7.50 in my pocket. I eventually plumped for a garlic cheese chips from Supermacs and a 99 cone. My vegetarianism inhibits me from any real choice.

As I moved along to the stands outside the event centre I was immediately taken aback by the view that awaited me. The racecourse itself is very impressive, incredibly long and superbly green. The stands were only peppered with people so I was free to enjoy every view the stands had to offer. As I walked back inside more and more people were shuffling into the event centre and ruining the serene and calm atmosphere that had permeated the event centre. The bars filled quicker than a saucepan on a rainy day and the cash registers jingled almost in rhythm with the click-clacking of the girls' high-heel shoes. 

Now I was out of my comfort zone. Now I had to find someone. I spent the next few hours bouncing between different groups of friends and chatting with people. The horse-racing was a mere sideshow and for maybe an hour or two I was actually enjoying myself. Good company in any environment is enjoyable. Eventually I lost everyone and found it increasingly difficult to navigate through a voluminous crowd teeming with drunken idiots. There are those drunk lads who find it hilarious to shout nonsensical insults in your face. Then there are the equally intoxicated girls who want you to be their "friend for the day". Then there's those people who still think the "Alan-Steve" joke is funny. It's not. It's old, so, so old. 

I can tolerate drunken idiots though. I'm used to it. What I can't handle is toilets that would be considered a bit too dirty in Auschwitz. They were cramped, brimming with people, fetid and a strange black liquid sat on the floors. The boys' toilets were quickly invaded by cackling girls. The queue for the girl's toilets was almost as disgusting as the conditions granted, but does that really give girls the right to enter a boys' toilet? Especially since a lot of the girls in the female loo were merely rectifying their make-up and not actually making use of the latrine facilities. I soldiered on admirably though. Well, admirably in my mind.

For the last hour so I undertook some improvised ethnography or creeping as it's more commonly known. That is to say that I studied the environment in which these students had created, observed their behaviour and the way they looked. I meticulously studied the attire worn by the students. The boys by and large were woefully uninspiring. Shirt, tie, suit pants and possibly a pair of Penney's sunglasses. I would estimate that around 90% of the boys present stuck to that dress code. Some of their ties didn't match their shirts, sometimes they donned a pair of runners instead of proper, dapper shoes and it was very rare that I actually saw a suit jacket. The best-dressed man I did see was actually my house mate Rory who wore an exquisite white shirt, lovely pointy shoes, grey suit pants and finished off the look with black suspenders. Lads take note, suspenders are timeless and classy.

The girls however actually made a proper concerted effort. Some of the dresses were amazingly colourful which is always good and though high-heels are incredibly annoying for any man having to accompany a drunken lady, they do ooze classiness. Some of the high-heels on show were very bright and flashy though the old reliable black and red were the most popular colours. 

The only complaint I would have is that an inordinate amount of the girls, and I believe this is the technical term, "fucked up" their fake tan. I would never advise the wearing of fake tan anyway. It's horribly disingenuous. So many girls profess through Facebook a hatred for girls whom they perceive are "fake", so why then do they wear FAKE tan? But if you do insist on wearing it make sure that it doesn't look like there is lines of shit seeping down your leg. It's not an attractive look and it's very noticeable. 

I did actually catch a glimpse of some of the races. The standard would be poor enough I was told on numerous occasions before coming and indeed those forecasts would be proved correct. I'm no horse-racing expert but even I could see the horses on show were miles slower than the horses I occasionally see whizzing by on RTE news. The race itself is quite nondescript, that is until they enter the final few furlongs. The crowd stand upright and cock their ears for the commentary and sharpen their gaze for the final stretch. As the horses near the finish line a massive cheer awaits them and as soon as the first one passes the line, pockets of celebration and jubilation break out. I assume those people had money on the winning horse and were not merely happy for the horse in winning the race.

As the clock ticked 7.30pm it was time to leave and I was left to reflect on a day of irritation and sporadic pleasure. My friends are great, other people aren't. What a wonderfully cynical and narrow-minded view. In actual conclusion, don't go to the Limerick Student Race Day, or any student race day for that matter unless you are A) Drunk. B) Betting. C) Both.

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