SMOKE: Pamplona: A Load Of Bull

Originally published: 14 July 2004

So it's Running of the Bulls time again in Pamplona, Spain, and CNN is reporting 49 related injuries so far - 15 from goring and the rest from stampeding injuries.

Most of the runners are Spanish, but of the injured there are eight Americans, a dude from Portugal (don't mention the Greeks), a Frenchman, an Australian and a South African.

I've seen some excellent gore footage - one scene in which a runner was repeatedly gored as he tried to get away was particularly special and memorable, and there are lots of extremely funny pictures doing the rounds of hombres being tossed into the air like rag dolls.

I love a good goring. It's called justice. Pity more of the victims don't die from their wounds - the last death was a 22-year old American in 1995, and in the last 100 years there have only been 12 recorded deaths. Way too few for my liking.

It's impossible to feel any sympathy towards anyone that would make fun of or abuse an animal, no matter how "traditional" or "cultural" the event is.

I'm not saying don't hold the bull run, in much the same way as I give my full endorsement to those pillocks on Easter Island who crucify themselves every year, or fakirs who pierce themselves with a thousand swords - if it's your tradition then go mad.

But don't be crying to anyone when the sword pierces a vital artery, or you die on the cross, or the bull gores you.

If you don't jump out of the aeroplane then your parachute can't fail. If you resist the temptation to wrestle Nile crocodiles you will not be bitten clean in half by them. If you don't swim with killer sharks - ah, but what the hell.

What I enjoy with the bull run is watching those fine beasts get their revenge on their tormentors - humans are such pathetically puny creatures and I love it when they get taught a good lesson by nature or wildlife.

It puts things in perspective when all the technology and knowledge in the world can't prevent someone from being gored by a beast who treats them with complete and utter disregard.

Bulls are very big on the concept of revenge, and rightly so - they spend their lives in the service of masters weaker than themselves. When they get let out of those gates they head straight for the nearest tormentor and their rage is not selective - kill those that would hurt you, so that they can hurt you no more.

There was only one seriously wounded runner this year - a Spaniard who was gored five times by an enraged toro. Other injuries include a Shoulder Gore, a couple of Knee Gores, a Thigh Gore and probably the worst injury of all - a full blown, sac-popping Scrotum Gore.

Someone buy that bull a drink - it's on me, buddy. Nice one.

Why I don't mind the bull run too much is because the animals themselves are not suffering (sure - they'd probably love to be out in the wild, but at least they aren't being stabbed with swords or savagely beaten) - they in fact are the aggressors, and as far as I know nobody is allowed to touch the bulls in Pamplona.

I might still have a problem with the running of the bulls even so, were it not for the fact that it has been happening for 400 years. That's tradition, and if nothing other than humans are being harmed then so be it.

There used to be a series on the Reality TV channel about animals getting revenge on their masters, and it really showed just how frustrated animals get when taken out of their natural environment, or placed in unnatural situations.

When confronted with a problem they don't understand they simply lash out, which puts them on a par with any given thick thug from Alberton.

Humans are just so quaint. "Hey, I know - let's go to some poky little town in Spain and get trampled in a frenzied rush of fear-crazed runners trying to get out of the way of some of Spain's finest fighting bulls who've been kept bottled up and frustrated and who are looking for easy targets to gore to death. Hey? Come on - it'll be fun."

Yes, yes - the adrenaline rush - gottit. I understand. But the possibility of the Scrotum Gore is never far from my thoughts when assessing whether I should attend Pamplona or not, and I'm afraid my desire to impress a fine woman with a fetching set of danglies always exceeds my desire for a bull-running adrenaline rush.

Takes all types, I guess. Olé.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
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