Kirk rang while Gary and I were sharing a big fish. I said:
Is this our man in Vanuatu? which I thought was very funny,
but it turned out he had moved on to Sydney which is apparently in Australia and
not quite so exotic. It is also the name of my cat, which has been stalking Meadow
Lane while I was away and seems to have survived remarkably well without me, which
is in some ways a disappointment.
I will tell you about the
trains next week because they deserve a chapter all on their own. They are amazingly
comfortable and run on time and appear to also do it effortlessly.
first I have to tell you about the bullfight in Madrid because it has been constantly
on my mind since I went on Sunday.
It seemed a logical
thing to do. Real Madrid was not playing at home and I couldnt imagine what
else you should do if you were in Madrid and there was a bullfight taking place.
Mind you, I did make a sort of pilgrimage and go past the stadium on an open-topped
I said to Rick I thought it would only be a pretend
bullfight. I honestly didnt think they still did the real thing, did they?
me tell you that they do. Eight bulls were not just killed in front of us. They
It was a magnificent spectacle. Matadors
paraded. Horses bedecked in sombre colours seemed to attract the bulls that charged
at them and one was actually knocked over. Once the bull charged into the ring
and clouted a junior matador, tossing him over.
saw a matador hurled to the ground and he limped for a bit as though he had been
in a tackle with Roy Keane.
But over and over again, men
stuck knives in them until they bled all over the place, principally from their
shoulders, weakened them until they could hardly stand and then the brave (?)
matadors delivered the coup de grace, oh-so-gracefully.
am so innocent about this that I dont even know if I have spelled bled
We went on a properly-organised coach trip from
somewhere on the Gran Via with American and Japanese tourists and it cost about
twenty Euros, though I discovered we could have gone on our own on the Madrid
metro and bought tickets and the whole disgusting event would have cost about
a tenner in real money. You can choose to either sit on the sunny side or in the
shade for half as much.
All the way there, the tour guide
waffled on about Spanish culture and all the lovely museums and municipal buildings
and never mentioned the horror of what was to come apart from saying you should
wave your white hanky if you thought the bull should be spared.
have a really lovely poster that would look good in my bathroom so that you can
look at it and then be sick without too much effort, as though youve downed
a bottle of Spanish brandy straight off.
On my television
back in Meadow Lane there is a debate about fox hunting going on at the Labour
Party conference in Blackpool because we voted for this government on the basis
that they were going to ban it. I just thought it was something to do with class
prejudice and Ive never given it a great deal of thought, but now I have
seen mans inhumanity to animals and suddenly I think Ive learned something
far deeper about cruelty and the secret urges that drive people to enjoy blood
sports and I have to tell you I dont like it.
of the 23,000 people at the bullfight were tourists. I talked to some Madrilènes
afterwards and they just shrugged and said it was for the tourists. Well I was
one of them and I feel ashamed. For all of us I hope it was a once in a lifetime