Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Gay Bull Of Mallorca

In some foreign field, there will be a part that is forever British. In a foreign field, or more accurately a foreign town, Osama bin Laden met his end; Abbottabad was named after one Major James Abbott. In Spain, British commerical empire, as opposed to British military empire, bequeathed the Osborne brandy name; the original Osborne was a Thomas Osborne Mann of Exeter.

In a foreign field, one between Algaida and Montuïri, is an Osborne bull. There are other Osborne bulls, dotted around Spanish fields. They publicise the brand. Like Milton Keynes cows, they are peculiarities on the landscape and they are very much sedentary. They do not move. Nothing happens to the bulls, unless, that is, they are painted.

Which is what happened to the Mallorca Osborne bull some three weeks ago. It was gay-ed up with all the colours of the gay rainbow. They might have turned it into a not so little white bull, but instead chose red, orange, yellow, green, blue and lilac.

It is the fate of large objects, especially those of single colours, in this case black, that they might attract the interest of those armed with a spray-can or some tins of Dulux. Maybe this was it. A paint manufacturer thought, "aye, aye, here's a way of pulling a publicity stunt, and what better than the gay rainbow to show off a range of colours".

The bull has been the target of previous alterations to its usual uniformly black appearance. These alterations have been like a red rag to traditionalists. They have been the work of uppity Catalanist radicals, claim the staunchly anti-Catalan Circulo Balear who have now called for the bull to be given a status of historic artistic patrimony. The various bulls were in fact declared as being of "cultural and artistic heritage" as long ago as 1994.

Siding with the Circulo in complaining about the homosexualising of the bull has been the Mallorcan federation of bullfighting. "Offensive independence graffiti." The bull, remember, is meant to publicise Osborne and brandy. It has been hi-jacked by all manner of groups, both left and right. It may get painted now and then, but it is also being subjected to the competing stabs of tradition and radicalism.

The gay bull has now been restored to its blackness. The Circulo, the bullfighting federation and others came together with their roller brushes on poles. All the while, with the bull being painted one way and another, no one seemed to take into account that they were on private land. The owner is not exactly happy. "Who gave them permission?" he would like to know. He was also not too happy that, during the re-painting, Spanish flags were being sold at two and three euros a pop. He's thinking of denouncing the re-painters to the Guardia.

The restoration of the bull has involved not just its being painted black. Its, how can I put, bullhood has also been restored. You can't have a bull that lacks "cojones".

The whole incident is of course splendidly stupid. What Osborne themselves think about it all, who knows. They're probably quite happy. All publicity is good publicity and all that, and they don't have to do anything.

Gaying the bull up, when it was, seemed somewhat timely. Indeed, consideration might perhaps be given to the bull's becoming a gay icon and being transported around Mallorca. Not far up the main road from where it currently stands is the town of Manacor. And Manacor has recently declared itself to be the first gay-friendly town in Mallorca. Why not symbolise this with a bull that likes other bulls?

Or maybe they could take it up to Capdepera. To coincide with its annual mediaeval fair this month, the town will be staging, in its Cala Rajada resort, the first ever Mister Gay Mallorca gala. Quite what this has to do with a mediaeval fair I am unsure, but then I am similarly unclear as to quite what being painted with a gay rainbow has to do with the Osborne bull.

But there is one definite positive to the great bull paint fight of Algaida. The Circulo Balear believe that the bull is not a gay icon but a touristic icon. They are of course wrong, because its presence is not that well-known. One thing's for sure. It is now. There's nothing like publicity.

Bull update
The bull has now been painted again. This time with flowers.

Any comments to please.

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