Monday, August 31, 2015
Bullfighting on Horseback
Later, as my conversational Spanish improved, I spent more time with Spanish friends. I would become accustomed to joining them sometimes in a bar over a whisky to watch the toros on the television. Among the group, an artist and a writer - both good friends of mine - would gossip with one eye on the corrida above, while occasionally shouting 'olé' or 'get tha fuck outta here' as necessary.
Since my wife died last year, I've been helped a lot by another Spanish friend, whose father was a famous bullfighter called Antonio Bienvenida. I've heard some of the stories.
These days, I move pretty much in a Spanish circle, my companion is Spanish and, like her friends, she goes sometimes to bullfights. I've been to three in the past year. I could claim that bullfighting is cruel and stay home and sulk, I suppose, but that would be silly.
In reality - notwithstanding the British view on Los Toros - no one goes to see them suffer. We go to see the skill, the art, the bravery and the excitement. No one, no one, likes to see an animal die. But it has to be part of the spectacle. The Spanish contrast the four years living on la dehesa (a huge open farm) and a brave death, versus nine months in a cage and a bolt through the forehead for a normal meat animal.
I can understand the point of view of a vegan - they are at least consistent - but a Briton who knows next to nothing about Spain, about her culture, her language, her history, her politics and her family-relationships, and yet likes his steak and chips - is hardly the right person to lecture me on the morality of la tauromaquia.
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