AT the beginning of my first stay in Spain (1974-5), I attended a conventional bullfight, almost at the insistence of my landlady.

My revulsion at the carnage witnessed in the area was surpassed by the disgust I felt at the frenzied bloodthirstiness of the spectators, who made me thoroughly ashamed to be a European and a human being.

There was a moment of slight relief when my companion (from Chicago), on seeing a chap with a box with the icecream brand ‘Frigo’ written on it, stood up and exclaimed “Treegow, Treegow!?”, mistaking the flowering F for a T, interpreting the word as ‘trigo’ (wheat).

Be that as it may, and despite spending a few more years in Madrid, I honestly had no knowledge of the existence then, or now, of the depraved annual act which Sharon Hopkins describes (Oxford Mail, September 27).

As she is by now probably aware, traditional ‘tauromaquia’ has been banned in Catalonia, the first instance of such a prohibition in peninsular Spain, perhaps representing the start of a protracted, latter-day ‘Reconquista’, terminating in the sport’s last bastion in Andalusia.

‘Reservo mi opinion’, as we used to say under the Franco régime, with respect to the role of the Roman Catholic Church, including priests, in these obscenities – except to state that not all Spaniards of that faith should by any means be tarred with the same brush.

I was aware that various parts of the bovine anatomy were removed as ‘trophies’. Sharon may or may not take some comfort from the ‘joke’ that ends, when an official, asked in a certain case why these appendages were so small, replied that it was not always the bullfighter who won (as was recently seen in Valencia and causing me and others little sleep deprivation).

Finally, she points out that the creature’s name was Afligido (meaning ‘afflicted’) – talk about rubbing the salt into wounds, even if the victim did not appreciate this sick addition of insult to injury.

DAVID DIMENT, Riverside Court, Oxford