Bullfighting stag party, hypothermia and a red squirrel in a beer barrel

It’s not often you see something which truly defies explanation.

We did a lot of day trips during our holiday to Mallorca in April. Sometimes out to a beautiful landmark, a drive up into the hills or along the coast for lunch. However on this particular day we decided to drop into the local medieval town which happened to have a bull ring.

Now to be clear I am not a supporter of bull fighting. Whilst I can understand to some extent the heritage and cultural arguments, I just can’t help but feel it belongs to another time. Anyhow that aside and purely out of curiosity we decided to go in and have a look round.

Enjoying a refreshing cold drink in the outdoor seating area, shortly after our arrival a minibus pulled up from which out poured a Spanish stag party in various stages of inebriation. They quickly huddled round the groom, naturally dressed as a matador, and after plenty of cajoling bundled their way into the ring where they found the proprietor of the establishment preparing a ‘bull’ for the groom to fight.

Now this preparation involved him banging on a large metal door behind which the bull was apparently ready to appear at any moment. Suspiciously he wouldn’t allow the groom to look through the small hatch in the door to see his foe, instead using it to prod the apparently already giddy bull. All of which was serving to whip the assembled group into a fit of childlike excitement.

Of course clearly this was all for show. A big black locked metal gate? Banging on metal? Rattling locks and hinges? Clearly it’s all part of show, any moment now he’s going to open that door and out will come running his friends pushing a mechanical bull, or a suitably giddy goat. Cue much laughter, bit of fooling around, everyone goes for a beer.

The moment arrives.

The groom is positioned 10 meters in front of the door, pink and yellow cloak flapping in the wind as he passes it from hand to hand. His friends have placed themselves safely behind the wooden panels dotted around the ring.

The lock holding the door is slowly loosened.

The bolt judders in its casing.

It slides back, the giant metal door swings open and… AN ACTUAL BLOODY BULL comes bounding out, charges the groom, hits him square in the shins and sends him spinning vertically through the air!

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Did that guy really just get wiped out by an actually bull on his stag weekend? Did his mates really just put him in a ring with a bull when he clearly has no idea what he’s doing? Am I really seeing this? Is this actually happening? Now I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t got a video. And fair play, on that first run the bull absolutely wiped him out but he got back up and went in for seconds. However as this video shows that didn’t turn out especially well for him either,

No bulls were harmed in the making of this video, but the groom took an absolute pounding.

And I know what you’ll be thinking watching the video, ‘but that’s only a baby bull how bad can it be?’ Trust me that animal was big enough. What I especially like in the video is the he’s actually doing ok to start with. This doesn’t last long. And when his friends run in to help him as soon as the bull lifts its head they all run off in the opposite direction. And I know it’s bad but it absolutely cracked me up as you can hear.

Now like the best man, and apparently all his friends given how much fun the bull had smashing them round the ring, I too am no expert on bullfighting. However, I’m fairly sure I was able to quickly establish a fundamental flaw in his technique,

Pic 1

On the subject of stag weekends, the month before I had also attended a stag doo, and though the chance of bullfighting was decidedly limited it didn’t mean we didn’t end up dicing with death.

Firstly though, a couple of signs that as you get older your approach to such events is prone to change,

No. 1 – You find out Ross ‘The Machine’ James stopped off on his way for a Costa Coffee and to ‘stretch his legs’. The same Machine who you once saw drink 20 pints of Guinness in one sitting and would have still trusted to drive you home safe

No. 2 – When someone you are sharing a cabin with asks what you are looking for and you reply, ‘my slippers, I’m sure I brought them with me’

No. 3 – You assess the merits of a boozer on its selection of real ales rather than its views on a man dressed in an ill-fitting Baywatch women’s swimsuit

The stag was for a very good old friend of mine Dan Fell and located in the middle of England, specifically in what I like to call ‘the countryside’. Regular readers will be aware that this is not my natural habitat, so in the spirit of integrating with the locals I thought it an excellent opportunity to dig out the flat cap I’ve been dying to wear all year, something I may have overdone given I even kept it on when we went white water rafting.

Pic 2

Hang on Fraser? Hang on. Didn’t you say you were in the middle of England? What are you talking about white water rafting? This isn’t the Canadian Rockies you idiot, the middle of England is flatter than a snooker table.

Well I’m glad you ask dear reader because I need to tell you about this little white water rafting experience in case you are ever foolish enough to do the same thing. Despite no obvious ‘rapids’ – or indeed ‘ripples’ in the complete placid river Trent, what is lacks in high drama it more than makes up for in being cold.

It’s hard to express how cold that river is but put it this way our guide, Captain Mental (who was completely insane, more on him in a moment) made it very clear that what we mustn’t, under any circumstances, do was get wet too quickly. We’d be out for two hours and the water was so cold if we got wet too soon he couldn’t guarantee our safety (I kid you not!). So for clarity he was telling a 16 strong stag party split across two inflatable dinghies, on a river, not to get wet too quickly.

Well I think the first person was in the water within about 4 minutes, and the last about 10 minutes later. I can’t emphasis enough what a huge error in judgement this was. I live in Sweden and am acutely aware that there is cold and then there is how cold this river was. After 15 minutes we were shivering. After 30, people were changing colour. After 45, hallucinating as we descending into full blown hypothermia – which our bonkers captain took as a sign that what we really wanted to do was get back in the river and somehow in our delusional state got us to ‘flip’ the dingy – nobody can say for sure why.

An hour and half later I couldn’t feel anything – physically and emotionally – and didn’t even blink when Captain Mental started talking about pulling the boat over and eating a cow (and I’ve had subsequent conversations to confirm that this did indeed happen).

Finally back to dry land, I climbed into the back of the van in a seat next to Dan’s brother Rob and the two of us sat shaking in silence for the 30 minute car journey back to the pub where we had started our fateful voyage. It was outside said pub that a local old chap, in a flat cap, stood smoking a cigarette. As I shuffled past him, teeth chattering, hands shaking, he muttered the immortal words “What the hell did you get in that river for, it’s bloody freezing. Stupid city folk.”

That all said, an absolutely brilliant weekend followed by an equally excellent wedding. Massive congratulations and big love to Dan and Jo,

Pic 3

Back to our trip to Mallorca, into which, as usual, I managed to incorporate some misadventure.

A couple of months earlier I’d agreed to present at a conference in Amsterdam right in the middle of the trip. Why? Well it’s very simply really it was a massive ego job, the conversation with the event organisers essentially going like this,

“Fraser would you like to present to a load of industry people who have no choice but to listen to you for 40 minutes?”

“Yes”

“It’ll be right in the middle of your holiday.”

“Oh that won’t be a problem I’ve got loads of time.”

I should have known things weren’t going to go to plan when I was asked to provide a headshot. Completely unrelated, a few days before this a friend of mine at work, Richard, had been working on a document for a client and asked the design team to ‘create an illustration of the modern professional, someone friendly, not too serious, someone who encapsulates professional services’ – and in his words not mine – ‘look who they gave us…’

Pic 4

I was extremely flattered by this as I obviously like to think there is a passing resemblance. Well imagine my surprise then when my actual headshot came back and I realised that in actual fact I resemble a red squirrel,

Pic 5

The second problem was that when agreeing to take part my ego hadn’t bothered to check in with my practicality department. If it had it would have the realised that the project I was working on at the time would leave me with zero time to actually write the presentation – for those with an interest, ‘What B2B marketers learn from the world’s most powerful B2B brands’ – umm, snappy!

This lack of time led to hours and hours spent over Easter Weekend writing the damn thing, to the point where I literally had no idea where in Mallorca we were actually going till we got there. And then a further equal amount of time in the 1st week of the holiday writing a script!

Anyhow, I eventually got to the conference and realised it was happening at the Heineken Museum. Now I know there’s an easy gag here but wait till you find out that they’d only gone and turned an old beer barrel into a lectern,

Pic 7Pic 8

I’ll let you add your own caption for what these two are saying. In my mind they are obviously saying how excited they are about my introduction rather than say, ‘oh God what’s this nonsense now’?

Meanwhile once back in Mallorca we had a fantastic time with our very good friends Emma, Per and their son George (who’s a few months younger than Rosalyn). Now I’m not going to bore you with loads of ‘here’s what we did last summer’ nonsense – I’m sure you don’t care. I’ll merely say that in the following pics you can see,

  1. A beautiful vista of the island with Alex, Emma, George and Rosalyn. If you’ve not been, I’d strongly recommend it, it’s a stunning island
  2. The most expensive property in Spain… well off in the distance called ‘La Fortaleza’. Most of you will recognise it from the ‘The Night Manager’ – and I’m sorry ladies (and gents) but Tom wasn’t wondering around with his shirt off. Interestingly it was apparently bought by a British banker (who else?) for 40 Million Euro’s. Apparently though he’s not happy (bless him) as under Spanish law he has to open it to the public 4 times a year
  3. Checking out some art Miró style … in, well, Miro style

Finally before we finish I should say that also in April we had Rosalyn’s Christening – it was a busy couple of months. We did this jointly with my very good friend Shella, his wife Sophie and their daughter Isabelle. You can see here Rosalyn taking great interest in her Godfather Ed’s hair (as we all do),

Baby watch

Pick of the month

The awkward moment where your brother and brother-in-law find out in a nightclub in Balham at 2am that they got the same Christmas present.

Pic 23

Track of the week

Now this a river worth checking out – Al Green, Take Me To The River,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmn2KDiW-kE

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