I have always liked bulls. On the farm in Scotland there was a bull shed where I was taken as a toddler. A huge – wild eyed – lump of muscle was chained up in there occasionally letting out a bellow that signaled the frontier of animal territory before it became the domain of magical and mythic creatures. As I grew I would always visit the bull shed and always got the same thrill of being close to real craziness and power. The bulls were always called Jock – sometimes Big Jock. At the same time I read and reread “Ferdinand the Bull.” Different bull theme – bull as sweetheart. Then there was “Little White Bull” by Tommy Steele.


Bull fighting is big in Okinawa. Not Spanish style – I am a man- I stick my sword right through your heart stuff – but bulls fighting each other. Sunday was a big bullfight day.


Le Stade

The Bulls are led in and faced towards each other.They put their heads down and push. There are many fights and each is different. Some last about 10 seconds as one bull takes the path of discretion. Some take 20 minutes  to end with one bull giving up and wandering off to smell the flowers. Then again whoa! – one bull get its horns under the opponent and lifts him off his feet and nearly over the barrier that separates the animal and human kingdoms.

Bulls fighting


Then the little white bull arrives. He is smaller than the other bulls and has a presence. He also has a big white patch on his face whereas all the others are uniformly dark.

Tommy Steele

He is pitched against a much larger – badly read – brutish – republican bull but he fights hard displaying great valor.

Play up - play up - and play the game

The bout goes through 14 rounds- the seconds are screaming advice – the crowd howling for a Tommy Steele victory. Suddenly the republican charges and our hero is pushed against the wall and loses his footing. He’s down! Oh no!


Poor Little White Bull

Looks bad but just like a KOd boxer he gets to his feet and grins meekly as he is led out to huge applause.

The bouts go on.

Happy happy joy joy

The afternoon comes to end with the two best bulls going at it hammer and tongs. There is  awinner. Everyone gets up and heads for the exits. Except for the champ who stands in the middle of the ring so little girls and boys can sit on his back. I am amazed. He is completely tame. His name is not Big Jock – it is Ferdinand.

Soppy bull

Here is a bad Disney take on the Ferdinand story.


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6 Responses to Bullish

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Ai no korîda.

  2. Is this beyond my language skills? Help.
    The ripple

    • Mike Taylor says:

      The Empire of the Senses.

    • Mike Taylor says:

      O.K. ai no korîda, rough translation, this ain’t no bullfight, (I guess there’s no Japanese word for corrida) is the name of a “scandalous” Japanese film (Empire of the Senses or Realm of the Senses) in which unhappy lady chops off her dead lover’s meat and two veg (post strangulation). Being Japanese, it’s based on a true story, a pretty torrid love affair, you’ve got to admit.

  3. I saw the film in Bourges in 1976! Had a profound effect on me. I think it may be at the heart of my failure to build meaningful relationships with Japanese women.

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