Smoking gets a bad press. England footballer Wayne Rooney gets a bad press. Put the two together and what do you get? You get the sickeningly sanctimonious London Daily Mail, desperate to flog more papers, frothing righteously around its grubby mouth.
Somebody saw Rooney smoking and, allegedly, urinating in public while on a night out with wife Coleen McLaughlin and, bang, our whole world has come crashing down around us. Never mind oil spills, earthquakes, floods and general pestilence around the world, a Manchester United striker’s slightly indecorous behaviour is the headline act.
“While the rest drank £250 bottles of vodka, Rooney disappeared out of a back door with some of his friends to smoke rolled-up cigarettes [sounds like a lekker doob to me - FH] in the street. Hardly the way a Premier League player who will shortly become United’s highest earner on £130,000 a week should be preparing for the new season. He was even pictured relieving himself against a wall behind a bottle bank when, one would hope, his aim was considerably better than in South Africa where he failed to score a single goal.” huffs and puffs the Daily Mail.
I’m a Liverpool supporter and therefore not Rooney’s greatest fan but I’m fast warming to him. Despite the best efforts of the hypocritical and morally bankrupt British press and his hardcore coaches, Capello and Ferguson, the lad keeps showing us he’s human. Nice.
So he took a swazz in the street. No problemo. We South Africans do that all the time. What, he’s smoked a few fags during the off-season? So what? The legendary French fullback Serge Blanco got through 30 Gitanes a day and he out-ran everybody in the international rugby arena. Legend has it old Serge used to enjoy a good gasper at half-time.
And here’s further proof that “Roo” is in good company…
Dimitar Berbatov may be a completely crap footballer but he looked pretty cool in that, didn’t he. Like a modern-day James Dean. OK. So the video ran out of footballing Italians and South Americans, virtually brought up to smoke, to show and had to fill in with various coaches and old Maradona’s love for a good cigar… but it makes its point. Some footballers smoke.
Big deal. I have a friend who insists on smoking while doing yoga. She calls it “smoga”. I got roped into a five-a-side on Stanford’s village green recently and enjoyed a puff out on the left wing. “Smoccer.” Who says playing sport shouldn’t be fun?
But the Daily Mail got itself into a right tizz over a normal oke doing what comes normally to an oke. Like losing his rag at the England fans who booed his team for playing like a bunch of wet lettuces during the 2010 World Cup (remember that video I gave you here).
Leave the oke alone. He might be just a Manchester United footballer… but he also has a right to live.
* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
I like what these guys are doing with leadsa.co.za. I like it a lot. It’s the right message. At just the right time. Stand up for South Africa. And stand up for yourself. Stop sitting on your hands. And stand up. And be counted.
Take a look…
Be “SA-positive”. Amen.
* If you look up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in the category you think best fits this blog. In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
I’ve been asked to pay the hosting fees to renew the fredhatman.co.za blog with Hetzner, who have looked after me extremely well for the first year of my blogging life.
Wowness. A whole year! Now, usually at this point, people like to look back and review the past year, pinpointing their highs and lows and generally boring me to within an inch of my life with what has gone before.
I’m not a fan of looking back. Give me today. Carpe diem. And then let’s grab hold of the future. So, what does the future hold for your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog? You’ve got me there, Hatpeople. You don’t mind me calling you Hatpeople, do you? Good.
Just as I don’t analyse the past, so I don’t like to try to prescribe the future. That’s never worked for me. Visualise a best-case scenario, yes, make decisions around it, no. What will happen will happen. What’s the point of planning for the unknown? “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. He was sharp, was John. So all I can say is, that for as long as I write this blog, its central theme will be one that is “SA-positive”.
It’s the way I’m wired. To be positive about my beloved country. South Africa. It’s purely instinctive, my great love affair and affinity with my country. And I instinctively write with passion about the things that make South Africa the best country in the world in which to live.
Wave the flag, wave the flag...
So, if it’s all the same to you, that is how we will continue on this blog. What I am doing, however, is bringing a bit of structure (did I hear cheering at the back?) to how I deliver to you my blogposts. Yes. I need to do that.
It’s been a bit all over the place, hasn’t it? Loyal followers of fredhatman.co.za (and I thank both of you for lasting a full year) have never know when to expect to find some freshly-laid waffle to read. There have been days I have kept you waiting. There have been days, especially during this post-World Cup cold turkey slump, when I gave you diddly-squat. I’m sorry. No, really. I am.
So, today’s previous post will give you a hint of what you can expect to find on any weekday. First up, in the morning, a fascinating fact about South Africa, delivered with a Hatmanesque twist. You’ve told me you like it. So I’m sticking with it. This start-your-day factoid is called “Know The Beloved Country”.
Then, later in the day, you’ll be getting something – it could be anything – which generally will show off our uniquely beautiful and intriguing country in an “SA-positive” light. You know where to go to read the bad news. And you know to come here for the good stuff.
Cool. You’ll get that before home-time. Unless, of course, you’re skiving off early for a bit of how’s-your-daddy. And that’s fine by me. You’re probably over 16. You have choices. Far be it for me to judge. Good golly, no.
OK. So you should, by now, know that not only am I lucky enough to live in South Africa, I’m seriously blessed to live in a particularly gorgeous part of it. Stanford. Third best-preserved Victorian village in the Western Cape. In the Overberg region. Twenty-three kilometres on the R43 beyond Hermanus going towards Gansbaai, to be precise.
Yes, we’re sandwiched between South Africa’s “whale-watching capital” and our “shark cage-diving hotspot”. Lucky fish. That’s us. It’s a largely undiscovered rural gem, is Stanford. And a village that has a vibe that is impossible to describe. “Hugely spiritual” will have to do.
Stanford: a spiritual experience
I’m going to be doing some writing about what it’s like to live here in Stanford. The amazing people it continues to attract. The strange goings-on. The headless horse which gallops through the roads of Die Skema by night. The seven leylines which run across our land. The annual far-too-hotly-contested giant pumpkin-growing competition. Weird stuff.
And I’ll also be updating you on the exciting campaign to position Stanford as the gateway to the fast-developing biosphere that is blossoming around the Agulhas National Park, right here on our doorstep. How we are growing towards becoming a hugely attractive nature-based tourism destination. But more, much more, on that later.
You might remember The Heart and Sole Tour, a crazy 2,000km unicycle jaunt from Durban to Cape Town earlier this year? Well, there is to be another unicycle marathon starting in November… and this time three unicyclist friends of mine will ride off-road (almost all the way) from Umhlanga lighthouse to Mouille Point lighthouse to raise awareness of a an excellent cause that is close to all of our hearts.
This mammoth undertaking is still in the planning stages but I will be writing a great deal about this as it unfolds. Prepare yourself. It’s going to be another rollercoaster adventure, babies.
What else? Oh, ja. You’ll want to read something after you’ve got home. Once you’ve put the TV to bed and before you slump on to the sofa to watch the children. Something like that. So I’ll be posting a wee taster about how it feels to me to spend another day in paradise. A rumination about life in a small country village in South Africa. Stanford. I might call it “By A Country Smile”. We’ll know by tonight.
And, if you’re really unlucky, I might start posting reports of my “Weekends with The Beast”, adventures down the dirt roads which lead in every direction out of Stanford and into the magnificent Overberg. But that’s only if you dare to visit me on a Monday…
How beautiful is The Beast?
* If you wish to receive updates of all of my blogposts, please join the Fred Hatman group on facebook or follow fredhatman on Twitter. Should you want to be updated only on Stanford-related posts, join the Stanford Alive! group on facebook. For updates on posts about the “mammoth off-road unicycle ride”, join The CounterBalance Project facebook group. Whatever you do, stay SA-positive!
I’m here. In my beautiful country cocoon of Stanford. It’s a glorious sunny Cape winter’s day and I could tell you that many birds are lunging out their unique songs in the garden but that wouldn’t make it very much different from many South African gardens.
What is perhaps different is, that from where I sit, I can see – over the roofs of white Victorian cottages – the craggy tops of mountains, glowing in shades of green and muted mauve. The Kleinrivierberge. It is said that wild leopard still roam in these mountains. Although Geoffrey Phipps, a local youngster who himself roams the mountain range in his mission to remove gin traps and assorted evils, says he has only ever seen their spoor and never actually clapped eyes on the elusive beasts.
So why am I telling you this? Because I feel seriously blessed to live here in Stanford, a very special place which attracts special people. And because, since South Africa’s almost excruciatingly magnificent World Cup ended 10 days ago, I have felt both elated and mentally exhausted. I have had to take a break. An unscheduled remission from the giddy-making carousel of SA-positivity which swept me up and spun me around for four weeks. As it did many of you.
As I have drifted slowly back to earth, I have understood how absorbed, nay swallowed whole, I was by my country’s party of a lifetime. I did eat, drink, breathe and live World Cup 2010. OK. I confess. I had a one-month stand with it. A seemingly unstoppable orgy. And, then, cruelly, as the last pyrotechnical rocket popped above Soccer City, I was dumped.
I know that I am a fool. A fool for love. For the love of my flawed, frustratingly fraught with corruption country, at turns horrible and heartwarming, at once wearying and wondrous. This is no easygoing relationship, hooking up just for the good times.
This is like being madly in love with a woman once condemned to death row. Relishing the gift of every moment spent together, luxuriating in the heady scent of her dusty, musty backwaters, delighting in the amusing nuances of her body language, always agog at her ability to poke herself in the eye with a big stick and then break out in a dervish-whirling, devilishly beautiful dance on the world’s table.
We showed them, didn’t we? We showed them how to be truly human and still pull off a successful World Cup. Hugely successful. Triumphant beyond even my wildest dreams. Pay no mind to those number crunchers who now sit like vultures with calculators over the handsome corpse of our World Cup and point to percentages, mumble about margins, groan over graphs and spit out told-you-so’s over new stadiums which may lie unused for a period of time.
To them I say: it’s not about the numbers, you boring farts… it’s about hearts and minds. It’s about inspiring children. It’s about South Africa growing up in the eyes of the world. It’s about perceptions. It’s about seeding a belief that we can overcome our many challenges if we believe enough in ourselves and our 16-year-old democracy. It’s about beautiful things not immediately tangible, by-products not easily assessable by one-eyed accountants obsessed with their abacuses. It’s about a vibe. So kindly shut up.
Instead, if you are of the “SA-positive” persuasion, it is not hard to continue to find the good. The microbiocide, researched by South Africans, that promises to help our women to stem the dreadful tide of HIV/Aids that has threatened to overwhelm our people.
So, as I recover from our ballsy celebration of all that is bloody marvellous in the state of the South African psyche, I look out of my front door and see no despair, only timeless and immovable mountains that offer me strength and hope.
And, now for reasons that should be apparent to you, I offer you some visual inspiration that came my way on my darkest day…
Oh, wait. I should first tell you that, after I pumped every ounce of my passion for South Africa and football into the World Cup, I was flat. Flatter than a pancake baked by the honorary secretary of the Flat Earth Society and then placed on the treadmill trampled on by the people in that awful The Biggest Losers programme. Pap. Introspective. Oh, OK, I was depressed. It wasn’t a World Cup hangover. It was cold turkey. And I felt burnt out. Then somebody sent this to me…
That’s Nick Vujicic. He loves living life. And he’s happy. And his attitude to life is massively inspiring. To everybody to whom the universe has thrown any sort of challenge. It’s how you get up. And it’s how you finish. Now, my little period of papness post-World Cup is as nothing to what Nick has had to overcome. But it’s always worth being reminded of how fortunate we are.
And I so wish I had seen Nick’s video back in 1996 when I did crash and close down. When I spent a month alone in my flat in London, mostly in bed, not working, not eating, not living. I was burnt out. But I did eventually get up, with two arms and two legs, and started again. It’s how you finish.
The link to this video was sent to me, unknowingly, by a man with whom I shared an adventure earlier this year. He rode a unicycle from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of the landmines that do remove arms and legs (and lives) and I drove the support vehicle. We lived in a parallel universe for two months… and, for both of us, there was a huge, gaping void at the end of it. But we finished.
I hope that he doesn’t mind me telling you this but Geoff Brink, the unicyclist, also fell down a few years ago. He went into rehab to flush out the accumulated poisons of drugs and alcohol from his body that threatened to ruin his life. It’s one hell of a story, that only he can do justice to.
But Geoff got up. He not only got up but he climbed on to a unicycle only two months after learning to ride it and pedalled it for 2,000km over a period of two months.. I watched him do that. Every minute. Every kilometre. And I will never know how he did it. It’s about how you finish.
So, we South Africans can stumble over each other to grumble and moan about how much it cost our country to stage the 2010 World Cup, how many houses could have built instead of shiny shrines to soccer. How many people could have been uplifted. All very well.
Some may say, now that our throw-everything-at-it party is over, that our country remains down on one knee. I would point out that, down on one knee we may be, but our hands are held up high in triumph. Because, in one short month, we won over the world. And, as Nick Vujicic keeps telling us, it’s how you finish that counts.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been flattened since our glorious World Cup came to an earth-shakingly climactic end on Sunday night. Pap. It feels like somebody I really loved has died. No exaggeration. I haven’t blogged in two days. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to write.
I’m messed up. I’m in mooch mode. I’ve thought about picking up on “Isidingo”. Picking up Leeanda Reddy. Melancholic. I catch myself staring into the fire and seeing Asamoah Gyan hitting the bar with that penalty miss against Uruguay. I’m off my food. My hair needs washing. No shampoo. No sham, it’s just poo. It’s like Gen Morton called and said she doesn’t want to see me again. Again.
I don’t really know what to do. Macrame? The washing-up? Steal some kid’s Panini World Cup sticker book and try to finish it? And then give it back to him? Or sell it to buy new clothes so that I don’t have to do last week’s laundry? I do know that I need to let go of World Cup 2010. I do. You too? Perhaps this will help…
Did you pick up all the little gems in that? The beautiful words and unmistakeable voice of The Arch effusing in his inimitable way at the opening ceremony? “This is like a dream… I must be dreaming!” Yes, Arch, it was like a dream… a dream come true. And we don’t want to wake up!
And there were a lot of vuvuzelas in tthat vid, right? Vuvuzelas, kuduzelas, favelazelas, madikazelas, madethismyselfazelas. The horniest World Cup of all time, Hatpeople. A month of sex in B-flat. No wonder we’re pap. You might even have seen yourself in there. Did you catch the beautifully loony London Mayor Boris Johnson putting out his best parp at around 4:15″? Best you have another look and listen, hey?
I have nothing else to say except to thank Peter Greenwall for creating this authentic slice of his World Cup experience and sending it my way. So I didn’t have to think of anything to write. Cheers, mate. OK, I’m off to make a fire. The Scrapster and Dodney Doodlebug are shivering on the mat. And I’m shaking. Cold turkey.
Oh, and one more thing… do that 67-minute thing for Madiba and your phenomenal country on Sunday, OK? I’m going to help some guys get a vegetable garden going on a vacant plot in the middle of Stanford so that the poorer souls can be fed some nutritious food. Go on, do your bit. Get yourself tested “SA-positive”!
I woke up this morning to the biting cold of a Stanford winter’s day. Alone. And suffering a deep depression.
I needed help. Group therapy sounded good. And I got it. From the vastly swollen ranks of the “SA-positive” people out there who are as hungover as me. On this day after the drunken month before.
So, how to describe how I feel? I can’t. I’m leaving it to you. These are the pick-me-up messages which came my way on facebook and Twitter today… I’ll throw in some pretty pictures just to – how do newspaper journalists say? – “break up the copy”…
Bravo Espana, bravo. the Grand Parade fanfest, filled to capacity with 25000 people was a SA experience i will NEVER forget as long as I live. People crying together, dancing, hugging, never before seen such unity amongst strangers and classes, creeds, colours and ages.
Trust a Ghanaian fan to succeed where Paris Hilton failed. Nobody bothered this bloke when he brought his pot into the stadium.
Dear SAFA – time to put your money where our youth developmental programme should be. How about PSL season to start with a youth league?
We did it South Africa. Thank you world for sharing our beautiful country.
Well done. Somehow, we must all soldier on. And we got our taste of rugby last night with the Dutch team. Sjoe!
The Netherlands' Nigel de Jong, who was later sent off, impresses upon Xabi Alonso of Spain that he didn't miss a single Bruce Lee movie as a kid
SA so in love with the vuvuzela that we name a newly discovered flower after it… iafrica.com
Spain has won the #worldcup of Football, but SA has won the World Cup of nation-building, social cohesion, national unity, pride & branding!
There’s always the Tri-Nations and Currie Cup to tide us over till the Premiership starts…
The football fans are taking lots of Vuvuzelas home #ORTambo #Joburg
Sorry, I'm not sure how this slipped in. The iPhone, I mean.
South Africa: On top of the world. Photo gallery… Times Live
South Africa proved it – the potential is high and the spirit of the people is strong. A metaphor for all of Africa?
South Africa #WorldCup stats ~ Attendance 3,178,856 (49,670 per match) Goals scored 145 ~ Wikipedia
Well done Spain – the best-looking team won the tournament. Well done South Africa – the best hosts won over the world.
The Spanish team seem quite happy to get their hands on the World Cup trophy... after some nutter had earlier run on the field to try to nick it. A Fifa heavy took him out with an almighty forearm smash to save the day. And he wasn't even Dutch.
I’m going to miss buying beers in the street and posing for photo’s with the police in front of Caspirs. Thank you South Africa, as if I needed a reason to love you more.
If the ref had picked up the foul on Robben, I think we’d have a different World Cup winner today! Well done to Spain, though, and to everyone involved in making the World Cup such a great success. I think we can all be extremely proud of the way South Africa rose to the challenge and made those doubting thomases, myself included, eat humble pie! Thanks for a fantastic tournament!!
Just watched all the morning news shows say good bye to the WC. I shed a tear.
The ever-popular Diego Forlan didn't shed a tear when Uruguay didn't make the final. He got so pissed off that he came along anyway, bringing a World Cup trophy his mum made for him back in Montevideo.
M sure s0uth africa are the best h0sts eva yho! even when 0ur teamz wer d0wn nd 0ut ppl still went 2 the stadiumz i salute u SOUTH AFRICA!
Well done, my country! We hosted the biggest sporting event in the world and EVERYBODY thinks it has been the best so far! I can’t wait for the next challenge cos we proved to ourselves that Yes, We Can!
Wow, South Africa, aren’t you proud ? Gosh that was beautiful, I must say, new South African history is written, forget june 16, together we wrote june 11 and it left a smile on all our faces, long live south africa!
Not trusting Eskom, quite a few fans brought their torches along for the closing ceremony at Soccer City last night.
There cannot be a single aficionado (not even in the Netherlands) who will dispute the cosmic justness of Spain’s win. They were better on the day, and they have been better than any team in the world for the last year or two. More than that, they play irrefutable football, football that fathers can watch with their children, football that is cerebral, clean-limbed, dignified, balletic, and immensely loveable—that last because they are not a team of physical giants, but are instead (for the most part) dapper men of modest proportions who wouldn’t draw a second glance if they were alongside one in the subway.”
And this from a Spanish guy… SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!!! A BIG CONGRATULATION TO THE BEST HOST NATION IN HISTORY!!!!! YOU DID AN EXCELLENT JOB AND BRING THE WORLD TOGETHER!!!!! THIS IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE THE WORLD AND YOU DID IT !!!!! AWESOME JOB!!!!!! NOW THE OLYMPICS IS GOING TO 2020!!! AWESOME WC2010!
I think Miguel enjoyed himself. And didn’t we all? Never again will those foreign predictors of doom – and our own naysayers – disrespect us. Yes, we are South AfriCAN.
We hoped he would turn up for one last hurrah. And, as always, Mr Mandela didn't let us down. Madiba, have we told you recently how much we love you?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to bed. I’ve got to try to shift this hangover…
Note to neighbour: Would you mind terribly, old chap, not blowing the old vuvu just for the rest of today? Ta.
To me, it matters not a jot whether the man who is given global football’s golden statuette on Sunday is wearing orange or red.
The real winner of this remarkable World Cup tournament is South Africa. And every South African.
I am no politician. No economist. I’m not much of a social analyst. But my “SA-positive” instinct tells me that, whether you found a job or not, whether your B&B filled up or sat empty or whether or not your company increased its profit over the past month, this beautiful thing has vastly enhanced all of our lives.
From the phenomenal opening ceremony at Soccer City on June 11, this World Cup really cooked!
I wrote long before the first ball was kicked on June 11 that the really tangible benefits of the 2010 World Cup would only be felt by our country in years to come. Millions of foreigners with significant disposable income will have had the scales fall from their eyes as their television sets and other media constantly told the story of the safety and sophistication with which our fledgling democracy has hosted this tournament. And they will have, from their lounges in Milan, Montreal, Manchester, Montevideo and Madrid, felt the “Ayoba vibe” that has danced its way around South Africa in the past few weeks.
For them, South Africa will have become a viable long-haul destination for a holiday, a place of warmth, friendliness and indomitable human spirit. We have become a country with which to do business. South Africa is the business. We have grabbed the opportunity to show the world what we are truly made of. And, just 16 years since the awful legacy of apartheid began to drain away, South Africa has finally grown up. We demand to be taken seriously. We can do just about anything any so-called First World country can do and, what’s more, we will do it a uniquely spirited way which can only enrich the human condition.
All South Africans united as one beautiful nation under the Rainbow flag
In the year that I have been writing the “only medically diagnosed SA-positive blog”, I have locked horns with the naysayers who refused to believe that South Africa could pull this off. That we could host a safe World Cup. That we could stage a successful World Cup. Stuck within the limitations of their fear, their distrust of an ANC government reeking of corruption, the unacceptably high level of crime, they saw the new stadiums rise as symbols of new doom and disaster. They steadfastly refused to break free of the shackles of their post-apartheid victimhood and see the bigger picture.
A week before the World Cup began, I was savouring my afternoon coffee at the Art Cafe in my newly-adopted village of Stanford in the Western Cape when an elderly woman opposite me let out a groan. I looked up to see her look up from her morning newspaper, a pained expression contorting her face. “I wish this damn World Cup was over,” she whined, “so that we can get back to our lives.”
I decided to remain quiet as there seemed little point in trying to win over yet another doom-monger. “What do you think?” she asked. I told her. At length. In detail. She blinked. Her top lip quivered uncontrollably. And then she put up an argument, rooted in the comfort zone of her dedication to making herself as small and shrivelled-up as possible in the face of a country that “was going to the dogs”. After we had agreed to disagree, I suggested that she might herself be caught up in the tsunami of goodwill and high spiritedness that was about to envelop South Africa. No sooner had the ball pinged off the left foot of Bafana Bafana’s Siphiwe Tshabalala to open the scoring in the very first match against Mexico and she was.
No sooner had Siphiwe Tshabalala buried the ball in the Mexico net and the South African naysayers were rushing off to buy vuvuzelas and mirror socks
I have so many anecdotes of naysayers and don’t-give-a-damners seduced by the beautiful vibe that has permeated World Cup South Africa but space precludes me from telling them. Suffice to say that there is a new positivity which abounds in the psyche of South Africans. The long-cherished spirit of “ubuntu” (communal togetherness) has turned from a trickle to a torrent as inter-racial distrust has washed away under the wanton waving of our Rainbow flag.
From the pre-World Cup day that the Afrikaner volk which lives, breathes and eats the Pretoria-based Bulls rugby franchise charted unknown territory by going into Soweto to watch their heroes play a Super 14 semi-final at Orlando Pirates’ home ground and ended up enjoying a “moerse jol” (one hell of a party) with the locals to the ongoing feelgood fandango that is this World Cup, South Africa has reached out across hitherto impassable divides to claim its future.
An entire continent will benefit from South Africa's successful staging of the 2010 World Cup
There is no doubt that this future is littered with challenges. It would be one-eyed of me to dismiss the chaos of Wednesday night when fans were late for or missed the Spain v Germany semi-final in Durban because of the gross unpreparedness of Acsa (Airports Company of South Africa) for the number of planes flying into the spanking-new state-of-the-art King Shaka Airport. And it would be remiss to ignore disturbing reports of a possible resurfacing of the xenophobia which tore through South Africa’s shantytowns in 2008.
Yes, there will be many obstacles to overcome. But if there’s one country I would back to find a way of overcoming these challenges, it is South Africa. We have made it our national sport to bounce back from adversity. The overwhelming success of this World Cup only serves to remind us that South Africans are an extraordinary bunch. An extraordinary bunch blessed to live in an extraordinary country. The beloved country. I am so proud of my “SA-positive” status.
Because everything about this first African World Cup is beautifully brand-new, I want a Holland v Spain final on Sunday. Yes, that way we’ll be assured of a new winner of the world’s most desirable football trophy.
Removing three-times winners Germany from the equation is just a bonus. But, first, Spain need to do the business under the soaring arch of Durban’s glorious Moses Mabhida Stadium tonight. And they will need their ace ball-distributor Xavi Hernandez to be at his very best to ensure that David Villa and Fernando Torres get to bang the ball in the old onion bag.
Let’s hope Xavi will be more on song with the ball than he is with the vuvuzela. Not that his sumptuous lifestyle at his ridiculously luxurious villa at home – and the repayments on his tennis court-sized Jacuzzi – will be threatened by his inability to blow the vuvu. But please put on your granny’s corset – to stop your sides from splitting – and check this out…
Heavens to dear old Anabella, that’s even worse than I blow it. Purse your lips, Xavi, and put them inside the mouth of El Trumpeto, amigo!
Here, let a little South African girl show you how it’s done…
There. How was that? Sweet, hey? Got it? What? Lips inside the vuvu, bru! Nort, man. If you’re going to win the World Cup here in South Africa, you must practise your parping, my china. We need you to give old Sepp Blatter a lekker blast in his earhole when you go to accept your medal!
I trust that all of you good Hatpeople have observed Orange Tuesday. Or, given the price of a decent pocket of oranges these days, at least Naartjie Tuesday.
To lend impetus to our friends from the Netherlands playing the skins off those cheating gits from Uruguay tonight, I ate three naartjies (a kind of small orangey-like tangerine) today. And I would have worn an orange shirt, or even orange trousers, but for the fact that orange doesn’t suit my skin tone. I know this because Tamara, my image consultant, told me that on one of her weekly visits to Hatman Mansions.
This is a naartjie. For those of you who haven't seen one. Nice. But purple suits me better.
So I wore a purple crimplene shirt. With lime-green terylene trousers. And bright yellow winklepickers. Which, when set beside my skin, makes for a far more phenomenal vibe. These things are important. When one ventures from one’s blogorandah in Stanford for the afternoon bubblegum milkshake at the Arts Cafe.
Almost as important is the not entirely insignificant matter of tonight’s World Cup semi-final between Holland, also known as the Netherlands, and Uruguay, also known as the bunch of cheats who sucked in the beautiful footballers of Ghana and spat them out on to the ever-growing slagheap of teams beaten by cynical, win-at-all-costs, deceitful, immoral and downright tawdry toerags who masquerade as honourable representatives of nations fit to contest the globe’s most stellar football competition. Pah!
But, now that I feel better, let’s look at tonight’s semi-final. Or, rather, let’s look at another reason why the only decent thing to do is support the men from Tulipland.
There's nothing quite like an orange tulip to lift one's spirits, don't you think?
No, there isn’t. Correct answer. Holland might be a very small country inhabited by very tall people but, when it comes to a World Cup, they embrace the whole vibe like no other. They make the host country their home country for four weeks. Well, everybody knows that the Dutch tried to make South Africa one of their home countries many moons ago but now is not the time for another history lesson.
Let’s just place on record that I have very much smaaked (liked) the way that Agent Orange has permeated this beautiful World Cup. Take that Dutch cavalcade that has trekked across our magnificent country, drinking lots of beer in the morning and making new friends all day. I do smaak that. Stukkend. A vast improvement on all that shooting and stuff that Jan van Riebeeck’s mates did. But that’s ancient history. And I wasn’t going there. So let’s go somewhere far more recent. Like that picture I just showed you of an orange tulip. Here’s another one (picture).
Strange how the colour orange seems to work rather well with her skin tone. Something to with melatonin, I suppose.
Fine. I’m quite pleased with the way this is turning out. But I’ll be even happier tonight when Cape Town Stadium presents us with row upon row of smiley orange tulips offset by weeping Uruguayans. Not, I hasten to add, because I take any pleasure from the suffering of others.
Just because I want a Holland vs Spain final and an eventual new winner of the World Cup. And because, more than anything, I want success in all sporting arenas to go to those who cherish the virtues of honesty, integrity and decency.
And, it appears to me, all of these things look good when worn with orange. Hup hup!
So you think I’m off my chuffing rocker? Er, that would be right.
But hear me out. The clever money is on one of Brazil, Argentina, Germany or Spain throwing around the World Cup trophy at Soccer City on July 11. Fair dos.
But my heart is on Ghana, the only African nation left in this tournament, triggering off a tsunami of shock around the globe by pulling off the unthinkable.
This is based on one factor. The human spirit. Which, in Ghana’s case, translates easily into team spirit. Please take your place on your fave chair to witness this thing of complete and utter beauty…
Can you imagine Wayne “Garden Gnome” Rooney and his England mates getting their groove going on any kind of similar level? Can you imagine the miserable gits getting any kind of groove going at all? Sitting around in a perpetual state of melancholy and waiting for the London tabloids to dump on them is more their style. Not ideal.
But this impromptu knees-up by the Ghanaians is too beautiful a thing to behold. I loved the way our Bafana Bafana guys sang while they warmed up in the tunnel before their games and if The Black Stars get their groove on when lined up next to Uruguay tomorrow evening, can there be any other result but a win for The Ghanaian Groovers?
I think not. Go, you groovethings, go!
* A powerful, counter-attacking doff of the old red hat goes to James Pearce for supplying the footage.