April 7th, 2019

Mardi Gras, English Style

I didn't count but I'm pretty sure that when I asked Bing to show me images of Aintree it came up with more pictures of women mucking about in frocks and fascinators than it did of horses- which is evidence for my thesis that the Aintree race meeting is our home grown version of Mardi Gras or Carnival- a time honoured festival of misrule- when people who otherwise conform to the social rules have licence to dress up and drink a lot and behave in an exhibitionist manner. And where else should it take place than Liverpool- the English city that has always had least truck with the stiff upper lip.

My mother had the TV on for the big race. Normally she has no idea what she's watching, but the Grand National is special- a sporting event she's followed all her life- and when yesterday's running was long over she still remembered it had been won by a horse called something Roll. Swiss Roll? Arctic Roll? I looked it up for her- and the answer was Tiger Roll- the same horse as won it last year- which isn't something that happens often. Another horse died- which hasn't happened for seven years but used to be a regular occurrence- and a fuss was made- which shows we are less tolerant than we used to be of animals being killed for our amusement. Owners of grouse moors take note: your time is nearly up.