Pedro Garcia; Motorised Toreador

The St James Gazette was a London evening newspaper published between 1880 and 1905. In 1905, the Gazette ceased publication as a consequence of its merger with the larger London Evening Standard newspaper. However, during its twenty-five years as a significant London newspaper, the St James Gazette had some prestigious contributors, including Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde and in 1904 it carried a widely read article about some of the unusual feats attempted in that new-fangled and much discussed invention – the motor car.

Early 20th C photograph of a toreador
Early 20th C photograph of a toreador

The newspaper highlighted the unusual story of Pedro Garcia, a Murcian bullfighter, who (at some point during 1902) attempted to attract crowds to his bullfight in Lorca by advertising the fact that he would fight the bull whilst driving a motor car. On the day advertised, in 1902, Garcia did indeed enter the Lorca bull ring in his motor car, which was draped in scarlet cloth. For a time, everything went well for Garcia, if not for the bull. However, at some point the bull, maddened by the sound of the motor car engine, made a successful charge against the car and knocked it on its side. Pedro Garcia was flung from the vehicle and into the ring. The bull proceeded to pummel the unfortunate toreador and flung him out of the ring and right into the midst of a very surprised crowd. The Gazette made no comment on the extent of the injuries sustained by Pedro Garcia, but perhaps not surprisingly, plans for further motorised bull fights at Lorca do seem to have been put on hold!

Baba and The Businessman

Nancy Valerie Brooke was the youngest daughter of Sir Charles Brooke, the third and last White Rajah of Sarawak, which was a British protectorate in the Far East. When she was born, in December 1915, the natives of Sarawak christened her Princess Baba, which was a name which stuck with the young Valerie for the rest of her life. 

Charles Brooke had unlimited life and death powers over his subjects in Sarawak. Nevertheless, his influence over his errant youngest daughter, Baba, seemed very limited indeed. Young Princess Baba went her own way and did what she wanted. In 1937, she married a British all-in wrestler called Bob Gregory and watched him at wrestling events around the world. Baba also became a minor Hollywood film star, appearing in Errol Flynn’s 1936 film Charge of the Light Brigade and in the 1939 film You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man with W.C. Fields.

In 1940, Princess Baba divorced her wrestling husband. Three years later, in May 1943, she married a prominent Murcian businessman called José Pepe Cabarro, whose father, Basilio Antonio Cabarro Tornero, was also a prominent businessman from the Murcia area. The couple married in Slough, Buckinghamshire and spent most of their married life in Wentworth, Surrey. The marriage was certainly an unconventional one and must have been something of a culture shock to a conservatively brought up Murcian businessman like José Pepe Cabarro. Baba was a celebrity who appeared constantly in the newspapers, mostly in Britain and the USA. If José Cabarro expected Baba to be a dutiful, traditional Spanish wife, he was much mistaken!

By late 1945, the marriage was really at an end. José had left the marital home and begun relationships with other women. Princess Baba was also having affairs with other men. The Sarawak princess employed a private detective to uncover the Murcian businessman’s alleged infidelities and in 1948 she petitioned for a divorce. The resulting court case generated considerable publicity across Britain. During the hearing, José was accused (amongst other things) of taking no interest at all in his wife and demanding that she do all the housework in their Surrey marital home. Princess Baba was finally granted a divorce in October 1948 and the marital links between Far Eastern Sarawak royalty and Murcia, in Spain, were consequently at an end. While José Cabarro resumed his business dealings, Princess Baba continued to court publicity. She married on two future occasions, before finally passing away in Florida, in 1993.