Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mumbai Magic!

As you know, I don’t normally get on my soap box about things but I do feel passionate about learning…and teaching. In my former life I was responsible for the continued professional development of around 60 staff. I was totally dedicated (obsessed) to finding ways for teachers to facilitate better learning. Knowing stuff doesn’t mean you can teach others. Being an expert in something is pointless as a teacher if you don’t have the skills to deliver. A little knowledge goes a long way when you are skilled in the art of teaching. I had the privilege of observing and giving feedback to many gifted teachers. I always felt sad when I sat in a lesson where learning didn’t take place…an hour of opportunity lost because of poor facilitation!
I had a recent ‘learning experience’ that made me appreciate this!

Here is a copy of the lesson observation notes carried out by an OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) Inspector who happened to be at a recent class I went to:

Lesson observation: Tuesday
Class: 15 students: 1 American, 3 Dutch, 11 British. (4 called Herbs, ‘erbs and were deemed as having special educational needs. On further assessment 3 were French speaking and so ‘erbs was acceptable)
(alleged) Aim of lesson: ‘The Spice of Life’ - the spices that go into Indian curry demystified. A cookery class.

Prior Learning:
 Participants had attended a 4 hour ‘beginners session’ in the ‘fundamentals of Indian cuisine’. The teacher described it as a ‘win-some experience’ on her blog. (winsome meaning ‘sweetly or innocently charming’) This wind-some introduction was targeted at the American market and did not stretch the British students who were already very familiar with the subject matter. Curry is the British national dish so rice and daal were well within the students’ capacity to cook alone and unaided without a step by step demonstration. By the end of the lesson the students were very familiar with the chosen university path of the teacher’s son, having listened to a 2 hour monologue but had not added to their curry repertoire.
Student A's own curry dish
During the Plenary the opportunity was given to provide feedback to the teacher, One student (student A) said she did not like the Paneer (cheese) and Spinach dish. Student B and C agreed. The teacher suggested it may be their western palette at fault. Students disagreed. It may just have been shite. The teacher asked for written feedback which student A promised to provide. (Student A did seem very studious- taking notes throught the session observed) Students were distracted by the teacher’s dog intensely licking her bare feet for quite a while. Student A was concerned about hygiene and wondered if the teacher had Paneer in her toes.

Start of the lesson sharing the big picture with learners… what they will do, how and why
The teacher was very thorough in ensuring everyone had paid… in cash and had signed a disclaimer against food poisoning, ceiling fans falling on their heads (as reported in a previous lesson), broken wrists, spontaneous orgasm, convulsions or slow and painful death by boredom.
Student A seemed to distract several other students waiting patiently for the lesson to start, causing one to snort as she tried to avoid laughing out loud (or LOL ), by teasing the teacher’s small dog and saying ‘Don’t lick me, I know where you’ve been.
The teacher asked who had done their reading homework, having pre-sent 30 emails with numerous attachments. Some students began whistling and looked at the ceiling. Student A whispered that the teacher’s dog at eaten her homework along with the toe paneer.
Connect and engage the class: lively and engaging start
The teacher said she liked to be entertaining so that students didn’t tune out. A lone note was heard. I name that tune in one: The high octave of chalk scratching on a blackboard. Either that or someone had not had asafoetida today.
The teacher spoke at the class for 1 hour. Wind-and-then-some.
Siting Doctor Oz and his American TV show as the basis for much of her research, the teacher spoke of the benefits of spices and Indian cuisine in a generic way, telling students that the mortality rate is lower in India (although she failed to say where she was comparing India with, to give students a perspective – perhaps Afghanistan or Belize). She said people in India did not suffer from Alzheimer’s and there was no Autism, just children who were a ‘little slow’ and would have to be looked after by brothers and sisters…or in her case, servants. Although not relevant to the lesson she mentioned having servants in India 17 times.
Not quite in line with winsome and wholesome aims she told students that Indian food kept the bodily fluids of blood, phlegm, vaginal and seminal secretions in balance. (there may have been other fluids but students were unable to hear after the first four because of student B snorting and student A howling).
She told the students that chilli intensified orgasm. It wasn’t clear if this was when ingested or through topical application. Student A referred to a recent article in Time Magazine that claimed 15% of females at the gym orgasm during exercise. Student B became concerned that when she got hot, sweaty and red at the gym it could be misinterpreted. Student A asked if any noises were involved. Gym students confirmed that they often grunted. Student C said she would no longer sit on the bikes at her local gym. Several students wished to discuss the merits or otherwise of chilli and exercise in assisting flow of the bodily fluids mentioned but the teacher did not allow the discussion to flourish and flower…A feeling Student A was familiar with, with regard to the subject matter.
5 students arrived 1 hour late. They seem to have purposely intended to miss the start.

Activating learning:
The teacher gathered the students round her cooking area (the lesson was in the teacher’s home. She preferred ‘homely’ to ‘professional’ kitchens). The teacher demonstrated cooking a potato and egg plant masala and a chicken masala. One student asked if some pre browned onions should be that brown. The teacher said it was very difficult to cook them correctly and that she was not a cook. Several students could not see from the back and began chatting amongst themselves. The teacher sharply told them to pay attention so they could listen to her reminiscing about her mother’s diabetic coma. I noted that several students also appeared comatosed. Several students went to adjust the air-conditioning which seemed to be set on ‘artic’. They did not return to the kitchen!
She recommended adding asafoetida to curries for flatulence. Student A asked whether it was to cause or prevent flatulence. Perhaps students would have been interested to know that asafoetida is also known as ‘devil’s dung’. Student A later said she had discovered the answer for herself. Coincidentally, there was indeed a distinct smell of dung.
Students were not given any opportunity for ‘hands on’ participation or to demonstrate their own learning. They eat the masalas for lunch while the teacher asked who would be attending the next session ‘Mumbai Magic’.  No one was available that day even though no date was confirmed. Win-some-you-lose-some

End of the lesson: Review and Evaluate:
The teacher gathered everyone back round to conclude the session saying she had many tales to tell which were bugger all to do with the lesson objective and spices. Student A said she had to leave very promptly with Students B, C and D. The teacher insisted she first share some of her knowledge of traditional Indian jewellery. She said it was always made of 22ct gold, from what was left after the British took it all. Describing the Mangalsultra necklace, the Indian equivalent of a wedding ring, she said they are given by the Mother-in-Law and often have huge phallic shapes on them. There was more LOL amongst the students. Student A, wishing to check if this was true, looked through pages of Google images of Mangalsultras without seeing one single willy shape. (although an initial mis-spelling yielded some shocking results!) The teacher told the class Indian toe rings were worn to activate a pressure point on the second toe connected to the Uterus. Student A looked from the teacher to the foot fetish, toe licking dog, horrified! Other students began playing with their toes.
Student A again said she had to go. The teacher said she could leave after carrying out group meditation. She asked students to close their eyes and cup their hands upward. She physically corrected student D, twisting her arms upwards. The student complained that the teacher was breaking her arm. Student B was alarmed and warned the teacher that student D had arthritis. Student A bowed her head, began convulsing and making sobbing sounds and appeared to lose control, all initially unnoticed by the teacher. Student B’s subsequent loud snorting attracted the attention of the teacher who then moved student A to the other side of the room. She gave student B a tissue even though it was student A who was crying and had black mascara running down her cheeks. Student A was able to see this when the teacher gave each student a little mirror at the end of the meditation so they could ‘look within’. The message was lost due to poor delivery and classroom control by the teacher. Several students were giggling uncontrollably with one particular student leading the disruption. The teacher should have dismissed Student A earlier. The teacher paused to allow Student A-D to leave, promising many more stories for the others. Students E-N also took the opportunity to depart!

Conclusion:
The teacher largely failed to target the curry loving aficionado audience at the appropriate level and engage them in any meaningful way. Spices were not a mystery in the first place. The learning outcomes were not as intended. One unintended outcome was Laughter. Student A had a headache from laughing so much and banging her head whilst getting into the car for a quick getaway. Another unintended outcome is the sale of chilli, Gym membership and toe rings have gone up in the Houston area!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bursting Balloons!

‘The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page

There are a lot of books out there and even the most avid reader sometimes misses out on a real tale. In an effort to cover the classics we may miss out on potential best-sellers…

Page turner #4

I love Winnie-the-Pooh. Not the horrid fat American Disney Pooh, I love the E. H. Shepard pencil drawn English Pooh. Piglet is my favourite but always felt some sort of affinity with Pooh. We share the same name. In what I can only define as an act of cruelty my sister called me Pooh when I was a child. When asked why, she would tell them it was because I smelled. This was bad enough in the confines of our home, but it stuck and all her friends called me Pooh too (some still do!). She is three-ish years older than me. By the time I reached 16 it became unbearable when one of her peers, who I really fancied, came over to speak to me at a party. I thought I’d pulled until he opened his mouth and said ‘You’re Pooh!’ Even though it turned out he had come over to chat me up I couldn’t get over the initial disappointment. I felt utterly deflated, just like Eeyore’s birthday balloon that piglet had accidentally burst before he got to Eeyore! It ruined the moment!
I felt a little bit like that today when I realised I had missed out on a real opportunity. I recently went to Dallas and covered the classics. I stood where JFK was shot. I stood where JR Ewing was shot. I walked the tourist tracks. In doing so I missed something off the beaten track… a possible life changing opportunity…held in Dallas this week… The World Balloon Convention. When I first learned of this extravaganza I thought it was all about hot air balloons. We had a neighbour in the UK with more money than sense who had his own hot air balloon shaped like a huge lemon. He tried to land it outside his house and managed to land it in everyone else’s, removing the roof tiles from most neighbouring houses. I don’t like hot air balloons.
It wasn’t big balloons, it was little balloons… a week long world convention devoted to the magic of balloon art! Not world as in ‘World series’ this really was global, even prompting some discussion on the radio in Britain about the shortage of helium. There is a world shortage of helium but never fear, I have discovered through my interest in this event that you can mix helium with nitrogen to save money when inflating your balloons. Don’t try this at home! I suspect such heady mixes could be explosive for a balloon beginner. I'm not sure you should still breath in the helium from balloons at parties to do a funny voice anymore!
I knew I was really missing out when I ‘liked’ them on Facebook! There were comments like ‘had a great time at the balloon jam last night’. After watching a few clips of the opening ceremony and seeing all those funky guys wildly waving those long balloons you can make poodles out of, I can only begin to imagine the fun to be had in the ‘hands on Deco-twisting Jam room at night! There were photos of all sorts of wacky things made out of…yeah you’ve guessed it…balloons. In a quirky twist there was even a hot air balloon made from little balloons- not a lemon shaped one, a fish shaped one! They made a full size car and motorbike, complete with balloon people. Amazing and fun! They made hats and dresses! I don't think you could wear the dresses for fear of a strategically important balloon getting burst. There would always be one prick to burst that balloon! I think my personal favourite was a (non-functioning – for fear of explosions) table lamp. At least I think it was a table lamp. Maybe it was that participant’s first trip to the convention. Imagine that as your table centre piece instead of a real table lamp! I feel really crap now for only having a little party pack of balloons for my kids’ birthdays in the past!
I’m not sure I would be an ideal delegate. I discovered today I am not always able to concentrate in group learning environments and it says on the balloon convention web site that as well as being in retail you have to want to develop a stronger professional balloon offering beyond the ‘3 balloons on a string’ concept. I’m still wondering why the f**k anyone would make a table lamp balloon sculpture so I guess I’m not ready for balloon advancement.
I really should stick to the tourist beaten track after all! I thought I might still get something out of the balloon convention even if I wasn’t going to get there and had no business going! I thought about Eeyore’s disappointment and Piglet’s sadness at bursting Eeyore’s balloon. Could a certain balloon have survived piglet landing on it after a fall down a rabbit hole? Professionals at the World Balloon Convention would surely know! I posted the following on the balloon convention’s facebook wall ‘What are the best balloons to withstand a boisterous party and not burst so easily?’ I didn’t want to bias the responses by telling them a pig and a donkey were involved. As yet, no one has responded! I guess what they say in their website must be true: the event is so ‘phenomenal’ and ‘mind-blowingly awesome’, that they are too busy in the Deco-twisting Jam room to give any sound advice to Pooh!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Supper!

If ‘the world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page’ sometimes it is best to remain in ignorance!

Page turner #3

Two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions
Triple-patty bacon cheeseburger
Cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeƱos
Fried okra with ketchup
One pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread
Three fajitas
A meat-lover’s pizza
One pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream
Slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts
Three root beers*

Roll up roll up! Doesn’t happen often but it happens more often in Texas than anywhere else in the states (with maybe the exception of Virginia). Happened twice as many times in Texas last year than any other state! Last year there were 318 possible opportunities (but on average it doesn’t happen more than 40 times in a year…) No, it is not cases of buggery, sodomy or incest in the trailer trash community (hell no! those figures are way higher and perfectly legal!)

I’ve been to Southfork, I’ve been to the Book Depository in Dallas, I’ve been to the Alamo, the Rodeo nad the Space Centre. There is only one thing left for me to do that is bigger in Texas than anywhere else. I could go to Huntsville, just 93 miles away and home to the gold medallist of state executions, and witness an execution!
Trust me to arrive just as they run out of lethal injection drugs. Apparently, last month they only had enough to do six more! The Danish company that supply the drug have gone off the idea. Apparently it is dangerous and can kill innocent people… in the wrong hands! Pity Georgia didn’t run out before putting Troy Davis to death last September! The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has presided over 238 executions. He proudly announced, during his recent failed attempt to get the presidential nomination, that that he had never struggled to sleep at night by the idea that anyone might have been innocent. He also famously drove 100’s of miles with his dog in a cage on the roof of his car, while the dog was so distressed its crap ran down the car windows. I doubt anything keeps him awake at night!
I continually read inane debates about the right to bear arms and defend oneself in the USA. Only last month a neighbourhood watch Nazi in Florida killed an unarmed boy because he looked suspicious and the gun slinger had a ‘right’ to carry a gun and a ‘right’ to ‘stand his ground’. Those rights seem more precious to hold on to than human life here. It depresses me so much! The comments posted on face book in relation to NPR (national public radio) running the story were shocking. People were still defending a law made during the wild west! America needs to move into the 21st Century!
Still, look on the bright side, as a tourist looking for a unique experience – gun crime is in no short supply and neither is the willingness to put ‘perps’ on death row, although observing one still has some rarity value to it. The last one in Texas was on 7th March and the next is scheduled for 28th. Until 1995, they used to hold them at midnight to allow for any last minute hitches. (I'm wondering what would be considered a hitch? Compelling evidence of innocence? nah!)  Interestingly they can hold more than one in a night and if they do they use fresh needles and tubes. Why? Infection? Hygiene? It would save some money to reuse as it costs more to kill ‘em than keep ‘em for life imprisonment! No- I dont get why either but all evidence suggests it does. One money saver would be to not but expensive drugs and let the gun toting, law abiding citizens of the USA put their guns to good use! I feel sure it would be a real money spinner. Americans would pay a lot of money to do that!
In North Carolina, where I endured life before Texas, state executions were at 2am to limit the number of protesters who would turn up for the candle lit vigil. You have to feel fairly committed to wave a candle around at 2am. In Texas they are now at the more considerate time of 6pm to allow friends and relatives to attend. They don’t have to worry about protesters in Texas.
I googled ‘can I witness an execution in Texas’. Apart from triggering FBI and KKK interest, my search didn’t yield very much. I don’t think they sell tickets. You have to be religious, related or really important to attend… or a journalist. 5 seats are given to the media with priority to Texans. I wonder if I can apply? I’m sort of journalistic and I was offered a place on a journalist course in London in 1987. I wonder if I would qualify?! I’m published FFS!
Even if they would allow me I have decided I would abstain on human rights grounds: In 2011 Texas ended the iconic ‘last meal rights’ based on the ridiculous and uneaten order from a death row inmate*. They now have to eat cold comfort and gruel! Although given the amount of fried chicken and burgers and generally unhealthy food of previous requests I can appreciate that Texas may have the well-being of the condemned individual at heart! Even if they could still have a last meal request, as alcohol was never allowed as a last request, I feel sure I could not sit thought such a spectacle sober!
In the metaphorical book of travel I guess this shouldn’t really feature on my radar as a 'must see' tourist attraction but sadly I am reminded of its grim reality on an almost daily basis and I really wish I could rip out this particular page…

* The last meal request of Lawrence Brewer before being executed in Texas for state and federal hate crimes! He didn’t eat any of it before his execution in September 2011. Bastard!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Big Jimmy J!

Although I try to remain above all things Americana I feel I should ‘experience’ certain things while I live here, things unique to the environment in which I find myself. I found a quote ‘the world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page. I think there should be an added extra: ‘…those that do travel need to skip some pages very quickly …and savour others!
(yes, I know it is the same intro as my last blog, I’m trying to set a pattern – I’m writing a travel book!!!)

Page turner #2
I suppose it was misguided, at the very least, for me to be asked, or of me to accept, the role of Godmother to any child. I had been to Bethlehem and the 'stations of the cross' in Jerusalem FFS! How hard can it be! Besides, the opportunity to wear a nice hat at their christenings and for me to be ‘special’ in their lives was too great a temptation. I agreed, for two of my nieces, to ‘pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk in the way of Christ’. I lied! I don’t suppose teaching them to put their legs behind their necks or encouraging them to read ‘God is not Great’ by Christopher Hitchens counts?!

I am always reminded, as Easter approaches that I failed miserably (I’m lying again! I think I mean joyfully!!!) to guide my nieces along any kind of Godly path. When they were little they once asked me what Easter was all about. We were outside the beautiful Church of St George in Worcester on Good Friday. I resisted telling them Easter was all about Spring, chocolate and two weeks off work and explained to them all about the Biblical stuff. Faced with my severe lack of interest, belief or tangible biblical knowledge but an obligation as Godmother, I kind of embroidered the Easter story and as they were little I thought they would relate to 'Jimmy' rather than Jesus! I told them all about Jimmy, the last supper (may have been Chicken nuggets), Judas (may have been a little Judas Priest involved as background music), crucifiction (may have had an element of Monty Python’s Life of Brian), resurrection (feel certain I did not mention zombies, that would have just been irresponsible of me to talk to children about dead people walking the earth) and that it was all just as real as the Easter bunny. They remember and still call Him Jimmy Jesus to this day – 12 or so years on!
One Easter, my daughter at the age of 4 said ‘Mommy, Jesus died so he could save us all, didn’t he?’ I tried to be non-committal. She continued, ‘He isn’t going to be much help saving us if he’s dead’. She then connected some dots after seeing a large cross at a cemetery we drove by. ‘He was crucified in Redditch’. Yep, that Green Hill far away- Redditch, one of the 1960’s New Towns of Great Britain that heralded all the signs that God was indeed dead!
I’ve always liked Easter. When I was a child I always got new pants (panties if you are American, but way too sexual to put on a child if you are English!!!) and lots of chocolate eggs. I’ve no idea why I got new knickers (a much better all encompassing word!)! My Dad still buys me a Chocolate egg every Easter.
You would think that being Godly, Easter in the USA would have greater emphasis on the biblical but it is just another commercial chocolate fest (only with nasty chocolate). You can get Easter bunnies on everything, from T-towels to tinsel (really). In a state that I can only describe as ‘bewildered depression’ I purchased a beautiful embroidered Easter egg table runner. Why??? The shops are full of Easter decorations. My sort of Easter, not Jimmy’s! Hardly a sign of Jimmy anywhere! In two aisles in Wal-Mart dedicated to Easter I found only 2 biblical references: a cross and a fish and they were both made of chocolate. I purchased both as a joke. Still not quite sure what the punch line is!
Everything is bigger in Texas, including God and Houston is home to America’s ‘largest and fastest growing church’. Lakewood Church’s $95 million dollar building seats 16,000. How many loaves of bread would that buy for the families in the USA living below the poverty line? The website says 38,000 attend each week (presumably standing room only) to hear the celebrity pastor Joel Osteen preach at one of his ‘shows’. This is also broadcast on TV and watched by 7 million a week. Apparently he is very inspirational. I think being mega rich and looking a bit like Richard Gere might help him! His wife is a bit of a looker too! I’m not judging, but if they were trailer trash trolls I bet you’d find a seat on a Sunday!
Now here’s the page turner! Do I take the opportunity while I am here in Houston to see and hear for myself one of the modern wonders of the godly world or do I quickly skip the page?  I listened to him on YouTube and I read a couple of his blogs, one about Easter. Not a mention of bunnies or chocolate or Jimmy. I realised I’d really f**ked up on the Godmother front, but it is OK because Jesus will forgive me anything and ‘is able to wipe the slate clean’. I am not sure Jimmy J will ever forgive me the prayer mat incident! However, according to Joel, I too ‘can experience the same power of the resurrection...to be forgiven…Jesus is alive’ (and kicking and living in Redditch?).
I’ve decided I could do better things on Easter Sunday. In England the Easter bunny always comes to our house and hides yummy chocolate everywhere for the kiddies to find. I could do an Easter egg hunt. Sadly, like Joel Osteen, Hershey’s chocolate is sickly sweet and nasty and way too focussed on profit, at the expense of taste and quality, for a gullible crowd who don’t seem to know any better. I, on the other hand, have made a lasting impression on my nieces, tasted Cadbury’s chocolate, been to Redditch and know the difference between a page turner and a show stopper!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A load of Bull!

Although I try to remain above all things Americana I feel I should ‘experience’ certain things while I live here, things unique to the environment in which I find myself. I found a quote on fb today ‘the world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page’. I think there should be an added extra: ‘…those that do travel need to skip some pages very quickly …and savour others!’

Page Turner #1
(I’m not suggesting my blog is a page turner – I’m sticking with the analogy of travel being a book, each experience or place being a new page!). Also, having been accused, frequently, of being a Victor Meldrew, I have warned you that being mean is funny and If I am nice about something it isn't funny! I have had lots of good fun that is funny but when something is fun it is no longer funny to share. Bugger…now I’ve turned into the Cat in the Hat…only not as funny and I don’t rhyme!

I had one savoury moment at the Houston Rodeo and I am not just referring to the BBQ roll I had. What we Brits consider BBQ is ‘grilled’ here and grilled is broiled… is it any wonder I get confused and order some weird food! BBQ beef is cooked by smoking it in a pit (or on a BBQ grill) for a long time. They shred it and add some vinegary tomatoey sauce and slap it in a burger bun.  I cannot mock. It is taken very seriously and Texans have guns. At the Rodeo they even have grills shaped like guns and people named after guns! The Rodeo or the ‘cowboy Mardi Gras’ hosts the WORLD BBQ championships. People had travelled from all over one particular page in that world book to be there and compete; World as in World Series, only more regional. There were 300 tents competing - all accessed by invitation only! Uninvited, we squidged our noses to the plastic tent windows to peer in! They were empty. Maybe we were early. Maybe everyone was headed for the real action: the Professional Bull Riders! Bulls pre-pit roast!
I’m not sure how you become a Professional Bull Rider (PBR). Perhaps they start by Mutton Busting as toddlers! Mutton Busting is where small children are plonked on sheep. The sheep are then released and run for their lives fearing the sky has fallen in (or was that Chicken Lickin?). The child has to hold on for as long as possible. It’s a precursor to bull riding without the horns or the mad bulls. I’m not sure hanging on to a sheep is the best training. Sheep ‘gambole’ (now there is a word heard only in my hometown!) but they don’t buckaroo! Perhaps Bull Riders move on to horses or spend a lot of time on mechanical bulls in night clubs. I know I have but I still wouldn’t climb on a real bull. It turns out you can go to Rodeo High School (of course) which began in Texas in 1947 (of course!) where you learn all things cowboy, including goat tying (of course!).
To be in with a chance of winning you only have to stay on a bull for 8 seconds, albeit ‘the most dangerous eight seconds in sport’! The bulls and the riders get scored. Unlike horses bulls don’t stop buckerooing, give up and get ‘broken-in’. Bulls strut their stuff, off load and run around the ring for a few minutes of freedom before going back into the corral. They know where to go. They head for the open gate! Rodeo clowns (real nutters or heroes, I can’t work out which, but not funny at all) are there to distract the bull and make sure the deposited rider doesn’t get gored. We saw one of the clowns get gored instead. In fact, I think the easy bit is staying on. The mayhem is after the fall. The bulls have fun! They do their best to maim. One rider ended up under the bull and 1500lbs of buckerooing bull missed his head by millimetres! Another rider got trodden on right between his legs! Bollocks, that must have hurt! The bulls have clearly heard about a Texan delicacy and wanted revenge. I had it on good authority from the manager of a restaurant we were eating in last weekend, whispered mind you for fear of offence, that Texans like bulls testicles. Of course! My plate of scallops just didn’t appeal after that!
The bulls were stars, with ‘world’ ranking. At #1 was Bushwacker with a 100% buck off rate. At #2 was Asteroid whose average buck off time is 3.47 seconds. Riders don’t score if they don’t stay on for 8 seconds! At #3 was I’m a gangster who had 100% buck-off rate but lower points. He had less bronco style! Worse than the top bulls are the un-ranked ones! No one wants a new, unridden Bull. I bet the riders pray to God for any old bull every time. If nothing else I’m sure God can deliver that!
The most remarkable thing about the riders, other than their death-defying bull rides were their names. I guess you can afford to be flamboyant with your name when you are a PBR. I wonder if naming your child Pistol (Pistol Robinson) sets their destiny! Pistol was never going to fit in somewhere mundane! Cord, Dusty, Dakota and Beau also had names to live up to! My favourite was Stormy Wing (brother of Buffalo, with a sister Barbie Q and dad Mr J. W. E. Wing!). Stormy’s mother must have read too many Mills and Boon books or delivered him during a Texan Tornado and been very literal! My son would have been called Balmy if I had named him after the weather the day he was born! MMmmm! Maybe Momma Wing was on to something!
Whilst I certainly felt more like a foreigner than ever, looking completely out of place without a stetson and wranglers on, I had a great afternoon. It was exciting and entertaining and very Texan! I knew it was gonna be good when the show opened with Whitesnake blasting out and rockets of fire bursting from the ground. It was rock and roll and I loved every minute, well on average every 5 seconds, of it. This was one page in my world book, I was happy to read! I may even go back and read it again… and again!


I found a clip of Stormy Wing in PBR TV top 10 wrecks of 2010. If you look at You Tube vids you can see exactly why Bull Riding is sooooo dangerous. It makes for grim watching. I highly recommend it!  As I am being all nice and positive I found a clip showing bull riding at its best!