Deise Hession’s weekly take on life as an amigrant in Abu Dhabi
IT’S the time of year when people are more than happy to get caught in traffic in Clarenbridge, are completely understanding about hiked-up hotel room rates, and are only too delighted to pay an extortionate price for a hot little number and a pair a control knickers that may be just the ticket to win best dressed lady at the Galway Races.
For the past hundred years I have been attending the Galway Races, not for the racing element but for the sheer glamour, craic and excitement of ladies day. Ever grateful for an excuse to buy a new outfit, ladies day always provides the perfect opportunity to dress to the nines, meet up with old friends and see how everyone is doing.
The Galway Races, I am aware, acts as a marker for many people up the country, particularly in Galway where many business and services close for the duration and many of the locals look at the races as the end of summer.
Being home from Abu Dhabi for the summer and experiencing the Galway Races has been a lovely familiar feeling.
In the Middle East, one has the onus of trying to create an atmosphere around certain days like Paddy’s Day, Christmas, Easter and Halloween. So when you’re actually walking down Shop Street in Galway and the atmosphere is palpable and the buzz surrounding the trip to Ballybrit is thick in the air, what more could you ask?
I decided to make my Races debut on Wednesday and meet other friends there, so we could all dress up and sip Moet for the day as if it were Dom Perignon. Cue the usual frantic race around town to find the perfect number, “Sophisticated, stinking of cash with overtones of class” was the look I was going for and lo and behold, I found the very thing in a niche boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street.
Shoes from Brown Thomas set my Races fund back a little, but I split the spend between races and long-term investment so neither balance sheet looked heavy.
I had a bag; this could be my claim to thriftiness if talks of belt-tightening came up.
Now to book a hotel room in Galway, last minute I know, but I turned to my printed list and started to ring each number — surely one would have something, anything. If they even knew a B&B, I wouldn’t mind.
Bingo, first number called for availability, what are the chances? Absolutely delighted, I called out my visa number, like it was my middle name, and just as she was about to ask I bluntly interrupted with my three digit code, what relief!
The morning of the big meet was hectic: drive from Cork, get hair done in Galway, book in to hotel and arrive at the races in time for the first race. Twenty minutes early thank to the new streamlined traffic system entering Galway, I sat patiently in the hairdressers waiting to for my wash and blow dry. I noticed I was the only one that didn’t have a voucher, everyone else seemed to have a groupon and no cash passed the counter in the 50-minute wait before I was called.
Preened and heeled, I walked into the tent to be greeted by my old buds. Everyone looked amazing, bright colours, tanned skin (slightly orange at the heels) shiny hair and loads of glitzy bits. The conversation quickly turned to style, I admired everyone’s dresses, and received a stock reply “Penney’s, 19”, “Penney’s, 11” and then the tin hat, “Penney’s, last year”.
Mmortified at the thought of the amount mine cost and certainly not one to be outdone, I felt I had to lie. “This is my mother’s, she’s had it for years,” I spouted. Surprise rippled across their faces, possibly at the thought of my mother wearing the nude coloured tight number with black laced-together back and killer patent
platforms. Barefaced, I stood and vowed to myself that never again would I be caught on the back foot. From here on, Penney’s, here I come.