I am, dear reader, no fan of goats. I almost like them as little as rabbits (and you gourmets who follow my cook blog know what I think of them nasty buggers, don’t you?). Goats are ugly, they stink, possess a most unpleasant personality, and excel in horrid dietary practises, stripping innocent trees of their green sprouts, and occasionally devouring newspapers and - worse – the 11th volume of my Collected Works (‘Brief writings on natural history and the meaning of the universe’), as one particularly vile and ghastly billy goat dared to do back in the summer of 1963.
But… no matter how ugly, stinking, unpleasant and wolfing goats may be, they do not deserve to be treated as they used to be in Manganeses de la Polvorosa – a charming little town in Old Castile, the pompousness of whose name is only surpassed by the imbecility of the locals’ character. To put it in a nut shell: every years during the village festivities of St Vincent, the most Christian brotherhood of the local church tossed a live goat off the bell tower, to the applause of the congregated village plebeians below. The idea was to catch the animal in a life net, held up fireman-style between a number of village toughs; but as all participants were inevitably stoned drunk, this often went a little wrong… which only increased the fun, of course!
Needless to say, the European Union, which bravely stands up for all the oppressed in the world (human, animal, plant or mineral), which has Commissions to battle every Global Injustice from the racial discrimination of chess pieces to the human rights of deformed cucumbers, never did anything against such village feast practices, because, you see, such goings on are Art, High Culture and Valuable Folkloric Tradition; and as such the rights of animal abusers in half the European nations are protected in and under the admirable European Constitution. It took the courage of a local mayor to forbid – in 2002! - this yearly pass time of drunk boors and juveniles, and to replace the breathing victim with a giant stuffed teddy bear.
Unfortunately, local mayors of such courage are few and far between in Spain. Provincial governments are too busy robbing the till or running from prosecution to be overly concerned with innocent fiesta fun. And the central government – be they left wing or right wing, it makes no difference – deeply loves and believes in regional folkloric traditions and would never lift a finger in the name of civilisation.
And so – while the goat no longer drops in Manganeses – Spain is still home to hundreds upon hundreds of crude, cruel, distasteful, sadistic and brutish fiesta practices that nobody cares to do anything about.
Ah, and they say that goats stink…!
AnimAl B. Mittington
PS: I am planning to compose a list of cities, towns and villages that continue in their barbarous fiesta ways, so that people of true Taste, Sophistication, and Culture may shun those spots on their holidays and not throw good money after bad habits. Suggestions from my readers are, naturally, welcome.