If you'd told me two weeks ago I would be sat astride a ton and a half of snorting beast which had murder in mind, I would have booked you a ticket to the funny farm. Yet here I was armed only with a slack bladder and an obstinacy so strong I was now prepared to risk life and limb all in the name of pride.
The farmer for whom I began working a fortnight earlier let rodeo riders practice on his bulls during the off-season. I had been dead chuffed when I was invited to the rodeo. That was before I found out spectating was for the ladies.
"You gonna ride or are you chicken?" my nemesis Archie asked casually.
"Of course I'll ride" I answered with mouth in fast forward and brain in rewind.
Jeez I made Marty McFly look rational. Risking life and limb rather than be called chicken. I could see Archie laughing as I climbed on top of the penned beast. As instructed I sat high on the shoulders with my hand holding the cord which attached me to the bull.
The pro-rider pushed my free arm into the air.
"That's for balance" he intimated sagely.
"What do I do?" I asked nervously.
"Do what want mate, the bull's gonna!" he said and threw the gate open.
They say your whole life flashes through your mind when death is near but that wasn't quite what happened. Granted time stood still as I flew through the air with all the aero-dynamic qualities of a house brick. It's amazing the thoughts that go through your head at such a time. Unlike a horse, when a bull throws you it turns around and come back at you, so my thoughts should have been along those lines. Instead I was trying to remember if I had put clean underwear on that morning. That was of course after I had cursed myself, the pro-rider, the bull and most of all the grinning Archie.
It was hardly a pin-point landing as I was unceremoniously dumped on my ass into the dirt, the thud somewhat cushioned by the loose dry soil. I was on my feet in a flash and running to the fence before the bull realised it had rid itself of the irritant on its back. When the bull did realise my head start was crucial as I dived head first over the fence almost doubling my personal best at the high jump. Hoots of derisive laughter permeated the air as I lay panting on the grass behind the safety of the fence.
Archie laughed loudest and his Cheshire Cat grin looked almost painted on. The smile faded in an instant and the colour drained from his face moments later though.
"Come on then Archie, your turn...... unless you're chicken" the pro-rider said with a knowing smile.