I love this bull, a strange admission especially as I would put bulls with bears in the category of animals I abhor. I used to be afraid of lions, legacy of a childhood spent watching too many wildlife programs but living in Ireland I figure I am relatively safe. Once I spent time in Africa and I found out that many wild animals including lions will give you a chance to escape if you wander into their territory. Not so bears or bulls who, it seems to me, kill out of sheer crankiness. If a lion eats you at least know it was because he was hungry and, if you are of a prosaic turn of mind, you can be comforted with the last thought that your life was of some use.
On my cycles about the countryside I often pass this bull. Usually he is sitting gloomily somewhere in his muddy enclosure which was once the front yard of a now abandoned house. His view is screened by trees on one side and by the backs of farm buildings on another. The low wall and gate that faces the narrow, shadowed road are topped by wire.
There is an aura of loneliness about him trapped in this run down place and I think that’s why I am drawn to him despite my opinions. He is all alone like me and off the beaten path. I stopped once to look at him. He heaved himself up and ambled over slowly but with intent, his massive muscles rippling under what could, to a hysterical imagination, look like a blood splotched hide.
Black and white bulls are supposed to be the most bad-tempered but as he began nosing at the wire I saw his flat, violent eyes, his petulant mouth and I realised he was not trying to get closer to me to commune and to sympathise. When he started bellowing I decided it was time to leave. As I cycled away I couldn’t help thinking that that’s how people must see me too: ready to burst through my wall to cantankerously trample to all about me to goo. It might not be an unfair assumption some days either.