Pamplona Running of the Bulls starts today
The Pamplona bull run begins at noon today, with a rocket launched in the town square, and from tomorrow tens of thousands of switched-on locals and brave (or foolhardy) tourists will test their wit against bulls through the town's narrow streets.
Pamplona is, honestly, not for the unfit. The course spans more than 800 metres and the average running speed is a little over three minutes. A pace no doubt enhanced by sharing the narrow course with two herds of bullocks plus six wild bulls, each weighing well over half a tonne.
Since records began, 15 people have died at Pamplona, and more than 200 have been seriously injured, while countless bulls have been slaughtered at the bullfights which conclude each day's celebrations. We'll be commemorating all the various competitors in this epic event with a Bull's Blood, a well-balanced cocktail infinitely more palatable than its name suggests.
It's the anniversary of the Hartford Circus Fire
7000 people were sat in a gigantic circus tent in Hartford, Connecticut this day in 1944. They were beginning to enjoy a trapeze act when the band broke out in the circus emergency signal, the Stars and Stripes.
A small fire had started - no one knows how. It spread to the paraffin wax that waterproofed the tent roof, pouring burning cloth and boiling wax down onto the audience, who rushed for the exits. Two were blocked - and there were only buckets of water with which to fight the fire.
Hundreds tragically died in one of the worst fire disasters in American history. Yet new fire safety laws would go on to save hundreds more lives. In honour of firemen - and, yes, fire safety officers - everywhere, we are drinking Dale DeGroff's Old Flame.
It's also the anniversary of the Piper Alpha Disaster
On this day in 1988, the world's worst offshore oil disaster occurred, when a fire started on the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea. The rig blew apart in a series of explosions, killing 165 out of a crew of 226, as well as two workers from a rescue vessel.
The platform would burn for three weeks, creating flames over 100m in height and visible from as far as 120km away, before it was finally extinguished: when the accommodation area was recovered from the sea bed, 87 bodies were found inside.
No criminal charges were ever brought in association with the disaster, but over 100 changes were made to offshore safety procedures. Many survivors have suffered longterm psychological problems after experiences such as jumping into the sea from heights of 50m, suffering severe burns and clinging to dead bodies to stay afloat in the chilly sea. We're toasting these brave men with the Jamaican favourite, Corn 'n' Oil.