19 Jan, 2019 @ 13:00
2 mins read

PROTEST WITH NO BULL: Why new year is the perfect time to campaign for change on the Costa del Sol

IT is a fairly well known fact that I’m not one of those ‘New Year, New You’ type of people, as the hulking pile of unopened self-help books gathering dust in the far corners of my bookshelves will verify.

But despite myself, I have made a few small steps to becoming a better person in 2019.

Before you all drop your morning Martinis in mirth, I must confess that I’m unlikely to have some Road to Damascus-style conversion, come over all millennial and start knitting my own quinoa or some such.

PROTEST FOR CHANGE: Giles with activists at Marbella’s anti-bullfighting march. Credit: photographermarbella.com

But while the rest of Marbella was eagerly posting photos of their new gym kit and training regimes on social media, I did dust off and drag out the weights from a dark corner of the casita and even indulged in a lung-bursting blast of cardio by hauling my post Christmas, battered body up the track that leads from the house to the Istan road.

A change of diet also occurred, as you can’t really get away with scoffing a handful of Quality Street for breakfast in mid-January. I couldn’t resist posting a shot of myself in scruffy hoodie and red beanie training hat – a sort of ‘gym smurf’ look, if you will – though I did caption it ‘narcissistic gym selfie alert’. And I also discovered that one of the added benefits of living in splendid isolation in the campo means that no one can hear your anguished screams and heavy breathing as you try and lift weights…

I also went on my first ever protest march. Even though I grew up in the UK in the 80s, I didn’t get involved in politics that much, apart from the obligatory CND badge in the sixth form, so avoided demonstrations for the poll tax, miners’ strike and Greenham Common. But the announcement that Marbella Town Hall planned to bring back bullfighting – banned by the previous administration – angered several of my friends who, like me, couldn’t see how bullfighting is still pertinent to 21st century Spain. I’m not going to engage in the rights and wrongs of it in this column, save to say that I’m right, and you can find me on social media and have a go if you think you’re hard enough. And if replies on my Facebook page are to believed, I am a marked man in some quarters of La Cala.

The march itself passed off without incident, with a broad cross section of pierced and tattooed hardcore protesters, as well as families and foreign residents. But I must confess that my vocabulary let me down with chanting some of the slogans. There’s nothing worse than getting ‘La Tortura no es Cultura’ wrong and shouting ‘La Tortuga no es Cultura’.

At least I got a laugh from my fellow demonstrators. Next time, I’ll just bring a whistle…

Giles Brown

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