This week I'm in Calgary, Canada. Sadly, I just missed the famous Calgary Stampede by three days. I'm actually not quite sure what it is but I'm fairly confident that it's nothing like the "running of ze bulls" in Pamplona. The Canadians are a little more concerned with "'elf 'n' safety" than our Spanish compadres.
I happened to be in Pamplona once while ze bulls were being "run". I seem to remember briefly considering taking part. Then I realised that the reason I was considering it was because I was very drunk.
I must have been in that weird frontier-land of drunkenness where being chased by sharp-horned bulls down slippery medieval streets seemed like quite a good idea – but not quite good enough to actually go through with it. In the end I sat precariously on a wall watching several people wish that they'd made the same decision as me.
Back here in Calgary, it tends to be a bit more "cow action" with everybody dressed up as cowboys sitting around on hay bales shouting "yee-ha" a lot.
They do however have an amazing rodeo. This is definitely one of the most rewarding spectator sports in the world. I've seen them in various venues around the globe and they all come down to the same thing – annoy the hell out of whatever your most ferocious animal might be and then plonk the local youth on it to see how long they can stay out of hospital.
They should do this down my way, in Cirencester – "The Cotswold Rodeo"– you could come and see polo players ride off against the local Asbos. They could ride a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. I must mention it to the council next time I'm disputing a parking ticket.
I did once take part in a rodeo. It was in Mexico and, I'm ashamed to say that alcohol was to blame again. We were filming, there was tequila about and I got too excited. One thing led to another and I found myself dressed up in full Mexican cowboy gear, on a horse with an angry cow about to be released.
In Mexico they don't mess about – they ride their horse hard after said cow, attempt to grab its tail and, using the momentum of the horse, flip it over. Even describing this sounds crazy but I watched several cowboys do it very efficiently. Then I turned up in the ring. The crowd went mental – why wouldn't they? They were about to see a gringo get killed, what could be better?
I'm actually not that bad on a horse but that's when I'm cantering about fields, not in a Mexican kill zone. I found it difficult enough even keeping my huge, silly hat on. The crowd were howling with laughter. I got the signal that the mad cow was on his way and "Baaaamm", the gate flew open and he shot past me.
I spurred my horse and we were off. Adrenaline kicked in and I was flying. I could hear the roar of the crowd. The cameras were rolling – surely this would knock Ross Kemp off his hardman perch?
I caught up with Señorita Buttercup – some primeval instinct took over and I leant down with one hand to try to grab the tail. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do once I had it but there wasn't a huge amount of time to think. Suddenly, there was a weird squidgy feeling that I couldn't really explain and the cow suddenly bolted to the right and out of my reach. I pulled my horse up to a stop. My honour was saved. I had done my best. The crowd were roaring their appreciation and I raised my hand to acknowledge them.
It was at this moment that I noticed faeces all down my arm. It seemed that I had somehow missed the tail and ended up elbow deep in the cow's arse. No wonder it turned away. I saluted the crowd with my bullshit-covered arm and slunk off to the cerveza tent. Thankfully, the footage was never shown and Ross Kemp remains king of the pirates.
Back in Calgary and we were invited to a "hoedown" where I was offered the opportunity to ride a "semi-crazy" horse (under close supervision of course.) I turned down the offer and pointed our RV towards them thar' hills, we'd got some camping to do. I could see that my kids were a little disappointed in me. If only they knew...
Forget the Open, it's Frisbee golf for me
Desperate for something to do in our desolate campsite, I have discovered the world of Frisbee golf. It's bloody fantastic. Why have I never played this sport before? I'm setting up a course the moment I get home.Reuse content