My views on the Feria


Posted on July 13, 2014

The Feria had its annual visit to Ceret this weekend. There are the two sides to it really, one is the bit that involves bulls and the other is thousands of young people getting drunk and making a mess. Neither one appeals to me.
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The bull part also breaks down into two parts. On the Saturday the cobbled streets of Ceret are flimsily fenced off and a lorry placed at either end of the main street which for the rest of the year is beautiful with it tall plane trees and ancient buildings.
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The lorry at one end contains several young bulls and the idea is to run the bulls down through the street to the other lorry. Horses and riders control the bulls as they escape the first lorry all wide eyed and frightened. They get a few hundred yards if that before the horsemen sandwich them, which slows them up enough for drunken idiots to climb over the barrier and grab a tail. It is the horses that hold the bulls and not the young men who believe them-selves to be showing bravado. It is the same ritual every year. The horses part and the young bulls run on and head straight to the other lorry.
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It is wrong for me to moan about another culture when living in the country but I just don’t see the point to this one. It isn’t brave to catch the bull’s tail, we are not talking fire breathing giant bulls that could tear down castle walls here and it requires no skill or real courage. It seems to be all pointless. The bulls are frightened creatures that just want to escape. The noise from the baying crowd confuses them and nothing much happens expect that now and again a drunken idiot steps over the barrier in front of the running horses and gets knocked over.
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The other part of the bull thing is the actual bull fights that follow in the afternoon. I imagine it is different bulls than the ones that run through the streets, because there would be not much of a fight with them. That said I don’t think there is much of a fight anyway. The bulls have a few inches of horn removed and then the tip glued back on, and this apparently causes them to misjudge distance.
They also get several lances thrust into their shoulders weakening them and lowering their heads. It really is just a ritual slaughter and how anyone can find the spectacle entertaining is beyond me. From where I live I can hear the bloodlust in the crowds and sometimes hear the bulls bellowing. Not a sound I enjoy or want to hear again.
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The thing is it is not even a French tradition and the Spanish are slowly stopping the practise. The old King was completely against it and I hear his Son who has taken over the throne is even more so. Long live the King.
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Here in French Catalonia they have no intention of stopping this bloodshed. Although it is getting harder to find the matadors these days as it is a tradition that is dying out as quickly as the bulls in the ring.
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The other side to the Feria is the huge number of people visiting the area. Thousands camping out on any bit of available green (including the park opposite my house) They all drink pretty solid for 48hrs and the consequences are rather messy. The shops and private doorways are usually covered in plastic the day before in preparation for the urine soaking they are almost certainly going to receive. Various bands set up and there is general chaos from dawn to dusk and beyond.
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I have to say the local council do a grand job of cleaning up the day after and within a few hours the streets smell of cheap disinfectant instead of piss.
Apart from some broken glass and the constant noise there is very little real trouble and the local clubs who set up the bars do make some money from the whole process, but it not a spectacle that I will ever return to see again.
Andy Beveridge

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