The road is long



Day 5. Load of Bull

Day 5. Puente La Reina to Estella.

Today saw the serious stuff at the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona.
Well I say today But to be honest some heavy stuff was going down last night while we watched the 24 hour news channel covering the event
There’s this parade thing , see , where the city councillors have to walk through the crowd In the past local agitators have used it as an opportunity to protest.
Certainly there were some right old fisticuffs going on last night – no doubt fuelled by vast quantities of vino.
Think of the most passionate crowds in football Maybe an Old Firm game in Glasgow
Then leave them to broil in the hot sun, let them drink themselves stupid all day Then parade a load of English MPs in front of them.
From what I could make out the local fuzz have suspended this particular tradition on health and safety grounds.
Their health and safety, presumably.

But the real business of San Fermin, the testosterone fuelled macho madness that is the Running of The Bulls began at 8 am today. And it finished at 0803. Thats how long it takes the bulls to run in fear from their pens to the bull ring – surrounded by men who are either running for their lives or leaping into doorways to escape retributive Karma from these maddened animals.
I watched the whole thing from a bar 14km away in Purnte la Reina.
By 0745 the bar was full of the few locals who hadn’t made it into Pamplona itself. They were cheering and clapping. It’s that football thing again
it’s a personal viewpoint but it wasn’t very edifying. I aint no animal behaviouralist but it seemed to me the bulls were terrified and just wanted to get to safety
Safety in this case meant the bull ring at the end of town. Talk about out of the frying pan…
The runners who made me laugh were the ones who seemed to press themselves against walls and then run BEHIND the bulls whooping and hollering
No doubt they will bore all their mates in computer support next week
“Yeah I ran the bulls in Pamplona”
No you did not! You ran behind them waving your arms around. Ive faced more danger playing against a 61 year old rugby centre my friend
You can even run beside the poor bulls and touch them. The animals are more intent on just getting the hell out of there
That’s not to say it ain’t dangerous. ‘Cos it is.
There were a couple of cases of bovine pay back. Usually when someone lost their footing amid the ludicrous numbers doing this run.
I spotted one unfortunate entering the bull ring in most unorthodox style.
On his back. Head facing in the wrong direction and a horn lodged in his clothing. Least I hope it was his clothing.
And all the time the Spanish TV stations have commentators talking us throught it

They’d been building up to this with “highlights” from last year and pieces to camera from various places on the run.
A bit like Geoff Boycott pressing his key into the wicket just before a test match
Anchorman: “so tell me Ramon, what condition are the cobblestones in today?”
“Hard Luiz, hard”
So they replay all the best moments in glorious slow motion while studio pundits discuss what’s happened
Well I say”best moments”. What I mean is the bits where hapless runners are pounded or gored to within an inch of their lives
It’s as if the Match of the Day team were looking back on a Premiership game
Lineker:” well Alan, I guess questions will have to be asked of the technique of that guy in the silly hat in the first half of that race?”
Hansen (commenting on the buttock clenching moment when one runner appears to have been gored in his groin) “Aye, he’ll be disappointed with that, no question”
sorry I’ve rattled on.
Tomorrow I shall regale anyone still reading this blog with the mysterious tale of the Canadian celebrity chef and his miraculous blisters cure.

And the bizarre story of the black lacy woman’s underwear and my backpack. I still shudder in horror at the memory….