Friday, 29 May 2009

Not so one sided

Back in the early 50s, I lived in Gibraltar. The Spanish town of La Linea was just a short walk over the border. I used to go quite often; it was cheaper than Gib, seemed a little more 'foreign' than home where the police dressed just like Dixon of Dock Green and the ladies were nicer there. When the season came around, I started to follow the bull fights. Then, it was just as one now follows football. There were the stars that one followed. Some bull breeding estates were better than others and their bulls were star attractions.
I became a fan almost by accident. My girl friend suggested we go. This involved sandwiches, leather wine bags and sitting in the warm afternoon sun whilst a stylised ritual went on.
My first encounter did not create any great feeling one way or another. I could have left then and never been conscious I was missing anything. However, in the second duel the matador got just that bit careless and the bull had him. Old suit of lights was tossed some 10 or 12 feet into the air and it was almost as if the bull watched and caught him on a horn to the midriff. The man was dead before the bull dropped its head and let him slither to the ground.
The custom is that one of the other fighters has to come into the ring and finish things. As the bull is by now quite aware of how the man will react it is doubly dangerous and not a lot of time is wasted in despatching it.
I saw that it was not a totally one-sided ritual and was a regular visitor. I saw one or two more serious injuries or one of the lead-in players was caught or perhaps a horse rolled over. We all did silly things in our youth; I would not want to go now. As for banning it, that is a matter for the countries where bull fighting continues. I am told it is fading away and I'm in favour of that.
But I do still remember those sunny afternoons .....................

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