As Britain’s only bullfighter, given that Frank Evans has retired, I have decided this year to head to the 320th annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain (aka the Feria del Toro, aka the Feria de San Fermín.) There are many bull-running festivals in Spain and France (as there were in England.) However, Pamplona is undeniably the most famous in the world, in fact it is the only famous, and that is because of the writings of one man, Ernest Hemingway, the 50th anniversary of whose death is on Saturday. So I lift a glass to ‘Papa’ as I pack my running gear; he was packing for Pamplona himself when he died. Pamplona begins – as it began 50 years ago – on Wednesday.
Back in 2009 I spent three nights in Pamplona, and ran the bulls twice, as part of the research for my book Into The Arena. However, this time, I am going for the entire festival, 7 days of bullrunning, and a couple of days either side. So, although I will know where to go, and who to see, and have my invitations already arranged, it will fresh, febrile and furious. And I intend to write this blog as I go through it: scribbling, photographing, filming, as I run the bulls, as I watch the bullfights, as I drink, smoke, fight and whatever else comes my way. And this not just about me: I have also invited other writers to join in, from Pamplona, and elsewhere…
I shall occasionally put in serious content, but my serious writing on the bulls remains on my blog The Last Arena and in my book.
Not to boast about the book, but the reviews have been good:
“Complex and ambitious… compelling and lyrical.” Mail on Sunday
“An engrossing introduction to Spain’s ‘great feast of art and danger’.” Sunday Times
“An informed piece of work on a subject about which we are all expected to have a view.” Daily Mail
“Thrilling… an engrossing introduction to bullfighting.” Financial Times
“An informative and breathtaking volume of gonzo journalism” The Herald (Scotland)
“An entertaining account [which] seeks a demonstration of the values which distinguish bullfighting from butchery.” The Spectator
From the front cover:
After all, what do you expect from something in which the author fights and kills a bull…
Last Sunday, The Independent printed a short version of my chapter on Pamplona 2009. This should keep you going until I unleash the avalanche of word, image, film and music when I touch down in Pamplona on Monday evening..