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Hemingway Adventure

Valencia, Spain (third day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureThis is a hard act to follow, and as the sun moves off the stadium and a brisk night chill comes on, Vicente appears to be coping well. The music plays a paso doble for him, as it does when particularly artistic moves are executed, but when it comes to the kill, things go wrong. This is the most dangerous moment for the bullfighter, for, although his bull is weak, he must at this point take his eyes off it and hope to bend himself and his killing sword over the still lethal horns to deliver the coup de grâce. Vicente has to take three serious risks before he can dispatch the bull. The crowd is unappreciative.

When Robert and I get to Vicente's minibus after the fight, the atmosphere is not good. Vicente is angry with his cuadrilla ­ his support team in the ring ­ for not preparing the last bull properly. In between tearing them off a strip he has to switch on a flashing smile for the fans thronging the van.

When eventually we manoeuvre our way through the crowds and reach the hotel, there are more adoring fans waiting for photographs, autographs and handshakes. He deals with it all very patiently and delivers grave, long-suffering smiles.

Back in his room his real feelings surface. He is angry at the way things went and is clearly regretting his promise of an interview.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Valencia, Spain (third day)
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Valencia
  • Book page no: 127

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