Well, today was the Melbourne Cup, the horse race that both proverbially and allegedly stops a nation. Woohoo.
I’ve never really been a fan of the Cup. I’m a contrarian by nature – if someone tells me that everyone does something I’ll tend not to do it, specifically to be a counter-example – so I’ve always reacted to being told that the Cup stops a nation by saying “Well it doesn’t stop me!” and ignoring it. I’m also not big on horse racing because of the animal welfare issues. I’m not a member of PETA or anything, and I eat plenty of meat, but racing somehow seems to be pushing our treatment of animals a bit far. I’ve also got a streak of puritanism deep in my soul, which pops up at unexpected moments to condemn things like gambling as wicked – so Melbourne Cup day has never held much attraction for me.
Of course working in an office environment makes such iconoclasm difficult, and heading off to a pub to watch the race at least provided a free lunch and 90 minutes or so of not-working. So I went along with it. I was also talked into placing a $2 bet, which I put down on Red Cadeux – the horse suggested by Diesel the Psychic Echidna, mostly just for a laugh.
As anyone who gives a crap about the race would know, Red Cadeux came in second, so I ended up winning $10. Not bad at all for advice from a monotreme, not bad at all.
Anyway, in honour of the event what song could I choose for today but My Lovely Horse from classic comedy series Father Ted?
For those unfamiliar with the show (have you been living under a rock for the last twenty years?) it follows the chaotic lives of a trio of notably unholy Catholic Priests exiled to a small island off the coast of Ireland – the venal Father Ted, the idiotic Father Dougal and the frankly diabolical Father Jack. In the episode A Song for Europe Ted and Dougal decide to enter the Eurosong music contest (an extremely thinly veiled parody of Eurovision) and come up with a ridiculous dirge about ‘a lovely horse’. They later improve it by stealing a tune from another song, but end up representing Ireland in Eurosong with the original because the country is desperate to lose and avoid the cost of hosting it again next year.
In real life the song was written by Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy, and the band actually released it as B-Side in 1999.
In any case, here is the song as presented in the episode (the seemingly random inclusion of swimming sequences and ping pong is because it’s a parody of the video for That’s What Friends Are For by the Swarbriggs).
They really need to lose that sax solo…
My second pick sticks to the Eurosong theme with the song Wolves of the Sea, which was Latvia’s Eurovision entry in 2008. But I’m not going to make you listen to the campy Latvian version, instead I’m presenting the cover by Scottish pirate-metal band Alestorm, which was released in 2009 (yes, pirate-metal is a thing).
I first heard this track in the Morley branch of Games Workshop and was rather surprised to say the least. But not as surprised as some commenter on YouTube who seem to be unable to grasp the purpose of the steel drum break in the middle. I mean, is it really that hard to figure out what they’re referencing? Really?
Anyway, that’s enough for now. The prawns I had at lunch seem to be disagreeing with me, and I’m taking an early night.