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News > Alumni Stories > Chris Meagher: Memoirs of a Bullfighter

Chris Meagher: Memoirs of a Bullfighter

On August 19, friends and family of Chris Meagher attended a book launch at St John's to hear from the author as he spoke with Andrew Coorey on the topic of his memoirs, "When Danger Came Smiling".

The audience enjoyed hearing of Chris’s time at St John’s, his travels to Europe and eventual training and experience as a bullfighter in Spain.

Chris was a student at St John’s from 1953-1957. He followed his brother Roddy in his choices of college and faculty despite not knowing much about what any of this meant in practice. He had an extraordinary experience and like so many he made lifelong friends. In his first year Chris represented St John’s in athletics, swimming, rugby, cricket, tennis, rowing, and snooker. He boxed in university competitions and played first team rugby for the University also.

Chris reflected on the challenge of being a fresher at college and was pleased to share how his tormentors were his close friends within a short time of arrival. He shared his recollection of the closeness of the College community but also the sectarian stresses of 1950s Australia.

Chris spent most of the late 1950's and early 1960’s in Europe, but it was Spain that really caught his imagination. Chris’s first excursion to Spain was on a team with John Louis Pidcock (1953-1956) and Glen “Herb” Coorey (1951-1956) and his wife Sue. Here they met with Ernest Hemingway at the Fiesta San Fermin which the author made more famous and they discussed bullfighting, also covered at length in Hemingway’s book Death in the Afternoon, a book well known to Chris. This led Chris on a path to his status as a Matador, an unusual occupation for anyone let alone a lad from Temora.

Chris explained the economics of bullfighting, which were of no benefit to him. He described its unique culture and rituals and the very specific danger of the sport. It was only years after leaving the sport that he took interest in his own statistics, 30 fights in and around Seville, of course, undefeated.

In 1965 Chris returned to Australia where he worked as a solicitor with a clientele overwhelmingly with Spanish as their mother tongue and was married to Joan, with whom he had three children, all of whom attended his book launch.

St John’s is honoured to have such an interesting and well-travelled alumnus and we were delighted to share Chris’s story with the college community.

For those interested in purchasing the book it is available on eBay.

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