Melbourne is fantastic at public holidays. This statement is as true as it is fabulous. Let’s take this Friday, 30 September for example, its Grand Final Eve! Literally it is the eve of the grand final and apparently this warrants a day off. The game in question is the AFL or the Australian Football League in full, and I seriously had to just Google that for clarity. For those keen to learn about the specifics of this game, I suggest starting your further reading at the Wikipedia page and following on to the official page as I sure ain’t no expert.
Tiny shorts in the serious rain. Photo from the AFL website
I mean sure, I played at school but the only thing I remember is that I got to smash into other girls and throw them into the ground, which was basically a cheap out for my teenage angst and earned me some kind of school cred. I also watched a couple of games on the television, but the only thing I got from that was that the players wear tiny shorts and it rains a lot because the season for this sport coincides with winter. I once was even asked out by a boy I was crushing to his footy (informal term for football, which is both AFL and rugby in Australia and it really depends on what state you’re in, but as I’m from Melbourne we’re going with the AFL football) presentation night. I was 15 or something at the time and was sadly disappointed by the event and bored shitless because as I would later in life discover, I don’t really care about football or about boys who identify as footy players.
In my early twenties I even remember going to the footy with a pack of my girlfriends who thought it would be fun. Now when one goes to the footy, they mean either their local, state or national leagues and the AFL is the national league (again don’t quote me on this but this is what I seem to have been able to cobble together in my brain). So we went to an AFL game and I thought it would be fun -that we would get to drink beer and yell. It’s true, I basically expected the same thing that happened in Sex and the City when they went to the baseball game. It probably didn’t help that I was going through a break up at the time (just like Carrie!) but the outing did not live up to my expectations. It was less of a rowdy, boozy party with cute boys to snog and more of a people-taking-a-sport-very-seriously-while-drinking-light-overpriced-beer kind of affair. Sure I get it, some people are really passionate about it.
One of my friends even made the mistake of forgetting it was Grand Final day when he and his bride we planning their wedding date. This was not much of an issue once they realized not all of their guests were footy fans. But then the bride’s team made it into the final and let’s just say she was a bit distracted on her special day. I even saw one of my girlfriends sneak off to watch the semifinals during a hens night I was at last weekend! We didn’t really notice her missing as this was during the mingling part of the night and not during a game, but we quickly found her once her team won and she was screaming with joy like she had just won the lotto! I guess it must be nice to care about a footy team that much or about the game. I can’t say I care about it at all, but what I really do care about is the public holiday.
Melbourne apparently has 11 public holidays and 2015 is the first year for the Grand Final holiday. I have never argued with Melbourne Cup Day (literally a public holiday in Melbourne for the sake of a horse race that happens on the first Tuesday in November) because the race always falls on a Tuesday and what better day of the week to take off and for what better reason? I don’t know – it’s Melbourne! But the thing with my new favorite public holiday is that it’s not even on the day of the event. The grand final is on Saturday, but just for good measure, we’re taking Friday off to get the snags (sausages) ready for the barby. It’s BBQ planning at its finest.
The other fine thing about public holidays in Melbourne is that they are generally not flexible like they are in the UK where you can opt to work and get a day off later. In Melbourne, if your workplace complies with public holidays (and I’m truly sorry for those folks who have to work them and thankful that services still run) then your workplace is shut on the day and no one does any work. The night before a public holiday is always a special time as that’s when everyone hits the pub with their workmates. As no one has to go into the office the day after, it only makes sense to get a quick bevie (alcoholic drinks) together.
As always, one quickie (alcoholic drink) turns into 12 quickies and whatever the public holiday was in aid of, you end up spending it with a little hangover and you get a couple of days to be an adult over the weekend or to come up with a cover story as to why you were seen leaving the pub with Pete from accounts. So here’s to being an adult and getting a day off from doing your job in honor of a sport you might not understand or care about! Bottoms up.
(Caption to top photo: Last time I wore a sport team garment in Melbourne … I don’t know anything about American football either or where that jumper came from.)