Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Taking the bull by the horns



Place: La Bispal de Emporda, NE Spain

Scene: A vast shed containing many bays leased out to antique and curio dealers. It is called, engagingly, Antic Center.

Cast: Myself (C), son (A), grand-daughter (E).

In one of the bays I come across this extraordinary artifact, as illustrated. No one else is in the immediate area. I am tempted to have a go. What you have to do is stand on the corrugated platform, grasp the bull by the horns, pull them inwards with all your force.  It tells you your comparative strength as a lover. The image of a Spanish lady presides over a scale 5-100, indicated by a needle. If you score 5 you are a gnome. If you score 100 you are a superman. There are many other categories in between, monk, lion tamer, pasha, romeo, gravedigger, donkey, footballer, torpedo, flunkey. Something for everyone.

It appears to be plugged in. It costs 5 francs a go, but francs went out years ago. What shall I do? Maybe it will work if I press the red button.

I press the red button. The machine hums. I grasp the horns. I squeeze them together, gently at first. The needle rises to 5. I squeeze harder. The needle rises further. What if I bust it by squeezing too hard? Suddenly the bull emits two terrifying roars. I drop the horns instantly. Have I bust it? Will the Antic Center charge me?

I notice the needle has stuck at 40. It says 'Pensioner'. While this is perfectly true, I feel I could do better another time, with more preparation. Or am I deceiving myself?

The bull roar has attracted the occasionally butterfly attention of E. She comes running up and asks 'What you doing, Grandad?' I'm not certain how to answer. I'm saved by having to explain by the arrival of A. He says he's going to have a go. He invites E. to press the red button. The needle falls to zero.

He applies his not inconsiderable strength to the horns. The needle rises to 55. It says 'Peasant'. At this point the bull gives out a ghastly moan which dies away to silence. The lights go out. The needle is jammed on 'Peasant'. Have we bust it? It seems very likely.

We scarper. E. says 'Why are we running away, Grandad?'

I say 'Because we're going to wreck the bar football machine now.' Earlier we did indeed see two bar football tables. 'When we score a goal we've to shout 'G-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-L!!!' like they do on Spanish TV.'

And we do.


P.S. In case anyone thinks our antics as a family unit include going round vandalising stuff in shops, please be reassured - by the time we left the bull-horn machine was working again.

9 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

An excellent example of how to fritter away your life. Well done!

Rog said...

You are a dealer in antics yourself Grandad Christoff

Christopher said...

There's an awful lot of frittering to catch up on, Vicus. We walk this way but once.

Spoken by one who knows, Rog?

Martin said...

Table football, so much more civilised than the real thing.

Z said...

Gnomes must be quite insulted. I believe they've always had quite a lusty reputation.

I suspect that you and E are demonstrating the size of 'the one that got away' ... but I believe E, I'm afraid.

On the other hand, I think that the difference in a generation between 40 - pensioner and 55 - peasant is not at all shaming. Especially as you were caught unawares and not really trying.

Er, A, if you read this, I'm sure you were not trying very hard either, so as not to show up your father.

Rosie said...

You were very lucky to leave before the toreador came for your ears...

Christopher said...

Z: Gnome? Actually it might have weakling, or goblin. Or fairy. I can't remember. Whatever it was, it was illustrated by the sort of stick-insect figure there used to be in the muscle-building adverts, e.g. 'before I took the Charles Atlas course of bodybuilding I was a 7-stone weakling and they used to kick sand into my eyes'.

Rosie: I know. Very lucky indeed. We've already had trouble from matadors with our doormats.

Rosie said...

Thank you...I feel an idea coming on..

mig bardsley said...

Peasants and pensioners - sounds like a title for a Muriel Spark novel.