Torn dress. Broken shoes. Body covered in bruises. A black hole where memories of the afternoon should be.
Welcome to Ladies Day at The Races.
At one time synonymous with grace and glamour. Now little more than a glorified Hen Night without the wedding to look forward to. I love a day at the races. But I'd truly rather chew my own face off than attend Ladies Day. Though I used to, of course...
Sliding down the door of the loos onto a nest of broken glass. Momentarily thankful you're at the stage where you can't feel anything. Knowing the pain will be waiting for you when you wake up tomorrow.
There's a special type of vitriol reserved for drunken women. Especially a drunken women in a pretty dress. I should know: I was a seasoned drunk and so on the receiving end of it regularly.
Smashing your phone into pieces during yet another botched attempt to call someone so they can come and get you because there's no way you can control yourself enough to get home alone.
It's one of the biggest double standards we have in Britain. Yes it's okay to get as drunk as we like, as long as we can hold down a job and keep it. Yes it's fine to lose control and do things a bit out of character, as long as not too many folk see it. Of course it's okay to drink enough to put our health at risk and skew our judgement enough to put ourselves in potentially dangerous situations. Just don't do it on a day named for women. When everything should be beautiful and feminine and bright.
Because then it becomes offensive. Doesn't it?
There's been concern in Australia for a while now over the way women behave at the races. Concern for their safety in regards to alcohol abuse. Because, contrary to popular myth, Australia, (and in fact Ireland believe it or not) both tackle alcohol abuse incentives staggeringly well compared to the UK. Australians understand what we still cannot grasp. That alcohol is not equal opportunities. That alcohol does care whether you are a man or woman. That alcohol does indeed hurt women far more than it hurts men.
That we as women have the right to earn as much as a man. Dress like one if we want. Have sex like one if that's our bag. But drink like one?
No. We can't. It hurts us. A lot. Physically. Mentally. In ways we refuse to even acknowledge. But still we struggle on, trying to keep up with the boys. Still we insist it is our right. Still we keep harming ourselves.
I have no right to judge any of the ladies at Ladies Day. Even on their worst day they still won't be as bad as I was during my dark days of drinking. What I do reserve the right to judge is the way UK racecourses are handling the drunk ladies of Ladies Day.
This week it was announced that Grand National organisers wanted to counteract the behaviour of messy drunk, (paying attendees) by making sure they didn't appear in any publicity photos from the day. Not a Ladies Day mind you, but the start of things to come? Almost certainly. Because it won't be the behaviour of the drunk male attendees that riles them. It never is.
Because that's how we solve the ugly problem of our drunk women in Britain. We make unsightly things disappear. Not the carnage. Not the violence (and there is violence at Ladies Day and it's horrible). Not the injuries, or the stomach pumping. Just make sure we don't capture it for posterity.
After all, if none of us can remember it the next day, and there's no photographs to prove it-it didn't happen, right?
Ladies do deserve to dress up, feel beautiful and enjoy something as lovely as a day at the races. They also need to know that they deserve more from this day then alcohol abuse, injuries and blackouts. We all collectively are responsible for lowering women's standards to the point where they are told to expect so little from their hard-earned days out.
It's up to us to come up with more effective measures for tackling this issue than our friends at Aintree.