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Going To The Derby
by [?]

They brought meaning and beauty into an otherwise bald and unconvincing mob. I assure you I love horse-racing–if I could see it. But of all the people who congregated the little crooked hills of Epsom, I doubt if ten people in a hundred saw it. You knew that the horses had started only because, as you lay dreaming, the million people on the stands suddenly made you jump with a loud, sharp, and terrifying bark, which said: “They’re off!” in one syllable.

Then there was deep silence, and somebody near me said: “The favourite can’t be leading, or they would be shouting.” Then from the stands came a murmur like bees, a muttering as of a man talking in his sleep, a growling as of wind in a cave. This only served to intensify the silence of a defeated people. One knew that something awful must be happening. Perhaps even Polumetis was winning.

Above the heads of the crowd the heads of jockeys began to be visible. A fool cried out: “The favourite wins.” Another: “Allenby has it.” Then one had a glimpse of three horses close–well, fairly close–on each other’s tails, and none of them the grey Tetratema. I noticed that on one of them crouched a jockey in exquisite grass-green. He passed like a fine phrase out of a poem of which one does not know the rest. But I did not really know who had won till the numbers were put up on the board. Then a badly shaven man in a bowler cried: “Spion Kop has won! Bravo!” and clapped his friend on the back. The rest of us looked at him with contempt. The tinker-nosed man who played the instrument that sang like a dog or barked like a nightingale began to squeak it into people’s ears.

The crowd began pouring itself through itself, and the dust from its feet rose like a cloud till it was difficult to see across the course.

And the motor-car broke down on the way home.

And Polumetis didn’t win.

And I’m as tired as a dog….

And so say all of us.