Real Fighters In An Imaginary World

When Simon told me that the main problem with the Frank Henley novel The Cockfighter was that you didn’t really get to know the main character or his cock, I couldn’t stop myself from sniggering. That fact that he hadn’t intended this as a joke just made it funnier.

We were both doing Masters degrees in media, and had gravitated towards each other, mainly due to being the only people on the course over 30. Not that we were friends, exactly, just people who had no one else to eat lunch with. Simon was writing a thesis on representations of cockfighting in different media. I had chosen the holocaust, a far easier subject due to the wealth of available material.

“Any luck with the Willeford movie?” I asked, after I stopped laughing. Simon shook his head ruefully. The Willeford movie was a 1974 movie called Cockfighter (also known as Born To Kill), based on a novel by Charles Willeford, and starring Warren Oates as a man who takes a vow of silence after losing a cockfighting championship. It was banned in the UK due to the unsimulated cockfighting scenes which had been staged for the movie. Out of all the source material that Simon had been gathering for his thesis, Cockfighter had proved the most elusive.  This was despite the fact that the US dvd was freely available to order online, but as Simon had been quick to point out, he didn’t own a dvd player.

“Have you considered downloading it?” I asked, taking a sip from my coffee. It was cold by now but I didn’t mind. “Of course not!” Simon exclaimed, looking at me with an expression that suggested that someone who drinks a lot of lemon juice had just pissed in his mouth. “That’s illegal.” I just shrugged. “I’m sure you’ll find a copy eventually,” I said. I didn’t bother telling him that I had ordered the US dvd for £2.74 from amazon, and had watched it the night before on my laptop. Like I said, we weren’t friends.

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