Saturday 14th July 2001, Dallas TX

Today we had arranged to meet Kirk Woodward (organiser of the Mother Road Rally) and his wife, Pam, for brunch at the upmarket ‘Galleria’ mall. We were up early … after all, we half expected to get lost en route, and didn’t want to be late. (Kirk had mentioned a host of brunch selections, including a Godiva Choclatier … and we were becoming decidedly bored of the Waffle House.)

In the event, we arrived just as the Mall was opening up. Quite apart from a formidable selection of eateries, the Galleria boasts a number of ‘Bond Street’ stores, and a skating rink (where a number of precocious young prima donnas were already practicing their tantrums for the assembled audience).

Seeing that I was still a little ‘tender’ from the ‘coming together’ earlier in the week, Kirk and Pam chose the nearby bakery for brunch. We sat and chatted for an hour or so, over coffee and croissants (and one or two sticky cakes), before we took our leave, and set off in search of a soft cushion for tonight’s rodeo.

The Mesquite Rodeo is one of the biggest events in the Dallas area. The main arena is surrounded by the ‘bleachers’ (basic grandstand seating, usually open air – although the Mesquite arena has recently been covered). There are also air-conditioned boxes, which are mainly used for corporate entertaining.

The rodeo was due to start at 8pm, and we were invited to have dinner with Lori’s parents in nearby Sunnyville. They had prepared a typical Texan meal of brisket of beef, potato salad, and barbeque beans. The beef was tender enough to melt in the mouth and very flavoursome … delicious!! After dinner we all piled into the McGinnis people-carrier, and set off for the rodeo.

I think even Lori and Howard were amazed by the length of the traffic jam, stretching in both directions from the rodeo arena. As the queue reached the gates, it was decided that Tyler would show us to our seats while Lori waited with Howard’s ticket while he tried to park the car.

We had missed the first bull-riding and calf-roping events, but arrived in time for the Mesquite mounted square-dancers. A jolly assortment of riders of both sexes, in all shapes and sizes, and varying levels of horsemanship (the phrase “only the balls should bounce …” springs to mind) riding in a ‘Thelwellesque’ pageant reminiscent of the Pony Club (with spangly costumes).

The quickest event of the evening was the ‘Tijuana Stud Poker’, in which four brave (or foolish) cowboys sit at a poker table in the middle of the arena while a bull is let loose. The man who is the last to leave his seat is the winner of the cash prize. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the bull had read the script.

On being released from his pen, the bull made straight for the table. The next few seconds were a blur as he upended the table and sent all four contestants scrambling for safety! The contest was declared a four-way draw.