My dear Hatpeople, may I have the privilege of introducing you to writer Helen Walne. I am even more of a fan of Helen’s left-field writing style than I am of Simphiwe Tshabalala’s left-wing artistry. And that’s saying a lot. Here, in a guest post for fredhatman.co.za, Helen insists that, regardless of how beautiful our World Cup might become, she is to remain unmoved. Please stop blowing your vuvuzelas for a minute and enjoy this…
Two weeks into this World Cup and I am proud to announce that I haven’t fallen for it. Amid the vuvuzelas, the soccer pizzas, the side-mirror willy warmers and the flags, I have remained as unmoved as a parliamentarian with a mandatory gym contract, as a 4X4 enthusiast at an instant lawn demonstration or as Posh Spice at a laughing yoga convention. You get the picture.
Indeed, being unaffected by hype has always been one of my more admirable qualities. When everyone at school huddled on the steps watching their slinkies coil and uncoil their way down to the bottom field, I bit into my egg sandwich and admired my collection of eucalyptus leaves. When the other kids dashed into a flutter of flying ants, squealing and chewing, declaring that they tasted like peanut butter, I went inside and drew pictures of dwarves. And when Knight Rider came to the Southgate Shopping Centre to sign autographs next to the Biltong Den, I refused to go.
So when it comes to resisting a silly ball game, it’s a piece of cake. Besides, I haven’t been interested in soccer since Dean de Beer played goalie for the under-15 Maritzburg Lions. He wasn’t the sparkiest boy on the bus, but he had a nice mole on his cheek. Anyway, according to the wisdom of Colour Me Beautiful, I’m a summer and look bad in yellow – like a jaundiced custard slice, or Homer Simpson after too much vindaloo. And I refuse to be brainwashed by advertising.
Besides tampons, cable ties and haemorroid cream, I don’t think there’s a single item that hasn’t been given a World Cup spin. From crisps and koejawels to soap and sosaties, the advertising Beelzebubs have positively dived, sprung, vaulted and jumped on the bandwagon. Last week, even our work canteen was flogging a Wayne Rooney chicken-something, and I’m almost sure our local tearoom is selling Bafana nasal sprays.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if, over the course of the past year, we haven’t been subjected to subliminal World Cup advertising. Maybe that nice couple with the Bible who came round last week were actually secret soccer agents, burning messages into my brain with their eyes: Thou shalt wear yellow. Thou shalt paarp those plastic trumpets. Thou shalt bow down before the beautiful game. And perhaps the bitterness of the soup I ate last night was not due to a batch of dodgy lentils, but a clutch of evil Fifafia pellets designed to turn me into a polyester-wearing freak. And right now, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that with every flap of their wings, the clutch of hadedas clattering overhead is disseminating subliminal pay-off lines: You will support Bafana. You will develop an interest in hamstring injuries. You will learn the names of all the players.
Pity they’re wasting their time over my house. I’m as immune as a turnip, as a Cape Town waitress is to the outside section of a restaurant or as a taxi driver is to solid lines. You get the picture.
"I have resisted the drama of the World Cup and continue to take the Drogbas for a walk in the park"
Nay, my dear readers, while the rest of the country are waving flags and swopping vuvu viruses, for me it is business as usual. Untouched by the hype, resilient to all forms of brainwashing, I will continue to go about my days with the composure of a Cumbrian tobacconist. I will take the Drogbas for walks in the neighbourhood, ignoring Joey’s penchant for peeing against every Lampard he can find. I might try my hand at baking again: rock buns, Bafana bread, scones and chocolate Rooneys.
On weekends, I will not be at the Beckham call of big-screen games and badly dressed commentators Blattering on about balls and bicycle kicks. Instead, I will go for Fabio walks in the forest, and later perhaps will throw some Coles on the braai and tuck into hunks of free-range Lahm.
At night, I will not be hanging with the Pepes at fan parks, throwing precious Silva at the bar for warm American beer in unmarked packaging. Instead, I will make myself a nice cup of warm Kaka, put on some soothing Capello, snuggle up in my Thierry cloth robe and dive into a good book. And on the days when our team takes to the field, I will take advantage of the empty shopping malls, cruising electronic shops for all manner of Dudas and claiming a Booth with ocean views for a spot of sushi and a glass of French Pienaar.
See, my little soccer suckers, how easy it is to escape being plunged into a Dunga of football delirium? Witness how simple it is to avoid going Gaxa over a silly game? Say thank you and Siyabonga for presenting an alternative way to surviving the next 30-odd days. It’s as simple as a tackle on a wounded midfielder, as a pass right in front of goals or as a header into the top left-hand corner. You get the picture.
Mmmmm, I don’t feel very well. I think I’m coming down with something. Something yellow and weirdly contagious. And since our Bafana boys bowed out so bravely against the French the other night, my condition is only deteriorating.
Viva, Bafana, Viva!
* This article, one of Helen Walne’s excellent series of Human League columns, was first published in the Cape Argus. Helen’s writing has been published all over the show and she is currently writing her first book.
We can be as “SA-positive” as a life-sized biltong replica of Table Mountain, dear Hatpeople, but if some English footy fans want to get trashed and start rorting (fighting) with nationals from every country with which Britain has ever been at war (including, I suppose, the Zulu and Boer tribes), then our World Cup cops will have their work cut out.
So the South African Police Services have been conducting simulated exercises to deal with any violent situation that might arise during World Cup 2010. They have been spotted giving their assault helicopters a good valet service, polishing millions of hand-grenades and even spring-cleaning their rocket launchers.
But we must get this into perspective. English football “fans” who like nothing more than a post-match skinful of Carlsberg Special lager, a well-dodgy shish kebab and the old “handbags at 10 paces” with supporters of the opposing team have only the British bobby to contend with…
A British bobby on the beat
Fine. The great British bobby is renowned the world over for shepherding blue-rinse grannies over a busy street, patting flaxen-haired children on the head and, after producing a boiled sweet from a large pocket, sending them scurrying home so as not to be late for tea. When they’re not entertaining Japanese tourists by wearing their standard issue tutus.
That’s all very nice. But I’m thinking that, just perhaps, those English “fans” keen on a little hows-your-father after drinking The Biltong and Boerie dry might want to be a tad more prepared for South Africa’s version of Mr Plod.
So, committed as I always am to providing a public service to foreigners trying to find their way around South Africa, here is a quick guide to how to not have to deal with the South African po-lis.
But, first, let’s have a quick peep at some of South Africa’s finest fuzz at work…
South African police deal politely with football fans who appear to have lost their way
So here’s my stagger-by-stagger guide to English supporters wanting to safely find their own beds after any of the forthcoming World Cup matches…
1. Once the final whistle has blown, proceed immediately to the nearest fan supporting the opposition (this includes those of a German, Argentinian and Zulu persuasion, as well as any stray Scots who might have got confused and landed up in the mix), cheerfully shake his or her hand and offer your congratulations for a game jolly well played.
2. After departing the stadium by the nearest exit, fall into single file and make your way home in an orderly fashion past every hostelry which purveys liquor and loose women, stopping only to smile and wave at anybody jeering at you or lobbing sharp objects provocatively from the windows of passing vehicles.
3. Once safely home, prepare for yourself a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and Ovaltine, catch up on all the latest World Cup results and news on the telly, text your Nan back in Old Blighty that you have enjoyed a splendid day out and tuck up with a good John Grisham before lights out at 11pm.
There. That wasn’t very difficult, was it?
Alternatively, you could swarm to the nearest pub, get lashed on Carling Black Label and Jagerbombs, pogo around bellowing “Enger-land, ENGER-land” with your bum-crack showing, suggest to a large Afrikaner’s wife that she spend the night sleeping in your vomit, pick your body up from the carpark and, after returning several limbs, bones and other anatomical appendages to their former place, ricochet off in search of a bucket of KFC and an equally motley crew of Germans with whom to trigger off World War III.
No terribly clever, Nigel. And, I might add, you won’t find a full English Breakfast the next morning in the Rooinek Wing at Rustenburg Prison.
OK. So it turns out that Geoff “Heartman” Brink, our intrepid and totally nutty unicyclist who is fixed-wheel pedalling all the way to Cape Town, has a good dose of Afrikaner in him.
This doesn’t surprise me. Although he’s been maintaining for some time that he’s one part Scottish, one part Viking (whatever that means). I mean, the longer we are on this madness of a Heart and Sole Tour – and the longer we travel the byways and dirt roads of our wondrous South Africa – the more he acts really boor… I mean, Boer-ish. He’s gone all feral on me.
It (The Unicyclist) speaks to cows, yells at hills, neighs at horses… and, if that weren’t enough, it held a long conversation with a very amiable and supportive Afrikaans-speaking geezer what called himself Jacques the other day. While chewing biltong at the same time. All rather perplexing, if not downright alarming, for a back-up driver/blogger/kiepie who is a regte soutpiel (English-speaking South African) brought up of Anglo-Scottish stock in Pietermaritzburg, widely considered to be the Last British Outpost.
So I wasn’t completely shocked when, upon finding evidence of buck droppings the other day, Meneer Brink challenged me to a bokdrol spoeg kompetisie. A what?! Er, that translates to “buck droppings spitting competition”. Afraid so. There’s no getting away from it. And there was no chance of me getting away from it. We do challenges – and sticking a perfectly-formed and rounded piece of buck crap – which looks like an earthy Ferrero Rocher – in one’s gob and seeing how far one can propel it using one’s power of lung expulsion seems perfectly normal behaviour. Um. Well, it does when you’ve been following a very feral unicyclist around the country for a month and a half.
OK. So it was game on, old chap. And may the man who can spit a piece of buck crap the furthest win. Let us – if you can bring yourself to do it – see what that looked like…
The presentation of the deer dung to be used as ammo in the shoot-wild-animal-crap-out-of-the-mouth contest. Yum.
Up first, The Unicyclist... and his best bokdrol spoeging effort reaches a distance of 4.52 metres. Impressive!
Next up, The Back-up Driver... and, wait, his pea-shooting experience at Pelham Primary School proves to come in handy as he propels the impala poop a full 5.06 metres! Wholly crapness!
Not bad for a Engelsman who didn’t grow up on a farm eating half a cow for breakfast and not wearing shoes until he went to university, hey? And even more formidable a victory when it is considered that The Unicyclist doesn’t drink or smoke and is as fit as a butcher’s dog while the Back-up Driver does both the former to Richard Burton-like excess. And, it must be said, is about as fit as the butcher.
OK. so we’re all rather relieved that that little malarkyness is over. Well, almost over. How did this most indecorous of games come about? Well, it had got far too hot to ride a unicycle, as tends to happen every day, and we went off-road to seek some shade. We thought it rather cool to do that in a game reserve and plonked our mattresses under a tree near the reception office and promptly fell aslumber.
Only to be woken up by the “executive chef” of Kichari Game Reserve doing a Gordon Ramsay impersonation and shrieking at us to wake up and get inside the building. We were then chided for sleeping in a spot where elephants, rhino and lions are known to roam! And had pointed out to us a nearby tree that had clearly been used as a back-scratching post for a jumbo. There wasn’t much of said tree remaining. Our midday nap was rather ruined and the bokdrol spoegery ensued. Now you know.
And want to know something else? We had no sooner got back on to the road for a spot of marathon unicycling when we he heard an unmistakeable roar. The Unicyclist fell off his one-wheeled steed, I nearly ran over him, we both grabbed our cameras and ran to the side of the road. This is what we saw…
Ahem. Imagine waking up under a tree in a game reserve to find this feller peering down at you? I did. Not nice!
Right. Well, where to next? Somewhere a little more gentle, perhaps. Oh, yes. We saw a nice sunset. Again. Here you go…
Hang on. What’s that black speck just above the horizon? Let’s have a closer look…
Mmmm. I think we have ourselves a bird flying through the setting sun. Let's see if I can crop in a tad on that chap?
Yes. A bird all right. How good of it to fly into shot at just the right time. I do like it when that happens. When nature decides to co-operate with my persistent efforts to get a decent snap. Nice.
There. That wasn’t so bad after all, was it? No. You’re right. it wasn’t. So all’s well that ends well (a saying that just came to me in a flash and, yes, do feel free to use it as the mood takes you). I just can’t be sure that I’ll be getting to kiss anybody anytime soon!
I’ve had a few mails from foreign viewers of this blog which ask those unanswerable questions: “What’s Umdloti like? What’s South Africa like?”
I try my best but, as locals well know, it’s like no other. That’s Umdloti and South Africa. Uniqueness, babies. How does one give somebody who’s never visited a flavour of South Africa? What’s the essence of South Africanness?
Well, it’s not contained in the following video. Or is it? Look. I don’t know anybody who does this but it certainly plays into the “Madam and Eve” comic strip stereotype of how a Sandton housewife might walk her dog… or, rather, getting “Eve” to do it for her.
OK. Here’s the thing. Non-South Africans might find even the suggestion that this may happen totally reprehensible. We South Africans will simply find it hilarious. Because, no, we don’t know anybody who would do this, do we? No, we don’t. Not anymore. That’s why we find it chuffing funny. So let’s not intellectualise it. Let’s just lag (laugh) our broekies (underwear) wet!
What? Oh, OK. Go on, change those broekies then. Because I have more. And, in the next vid, the umhlungu (white man) had every reason to change his underwear after this enjoyable (for us) exchange with a South African institution. No, not one of our notorious banks. Not the police. Not even a car hijacker. A car guard. Those guys who look after cars for a few rand (in this case, five bucks) because of a national perception that, even if you pop into the corner shop for two minutes to buy a jar of Marmite or bag of biltong, your bakkie or Beemer will be on its way to a township. This car guard is sommer priceless…
And this is three guys singing a South African song in a car. Simple as that.
Nice. Sung with passion. South Africanness.
And then, instead of throwing into this mix yet another vid which shows off the probably unparalleled scenic splendour of our jawdroppingly diverse and sumptuously beautiful country, I thought you might enjoy this…
Classicness. Broekiechangingness. The truth. I see this happening every day at Java Cafe on Umdloti’s seafront. But, hey, you had better come and see for yourself. Leave any preconceptions at home but do remember to pack your sense of humour. You’ll need it. In fact, the customs okes will probably ask you to produce it before stamping your passport!
An exclusive interview with the spokescat of the South African Somewhat Dangerous Lions Society reveals that local lions, especially those which roam wild and free in the coastal bush around Hatman Mansions here in Umdloti, are licking their lips at the prospect of huge amounts of prime British beef being served up at World Cup 2010.
Before I go on, would you like to watch a clip of London Daily Telegraph travel writer Charlie Starmer Smith having a chunk of his leg removed by a playful “teenager” at a “lion sanctuary” in the Limpopo province? I think you do. No, really, you do. If it’s the only thing you do do today, watch this. Crack open a cold beer and get the biltong out, dearest children of Africa, and enjoy…
NOTE: The videolink (below) has been secreted away by shadowy villains in balaclavas. Am negotiating with Daily Telegraph to have it restored. Please pop by later for an incredible video! Thanks, Fred
OK. Update. The Daily Telegraph not happy to share their vid with me. I’m only allowed to link to the vid, not host it. Fine. Mutter, mutter. Here’s the link to their site and you can watch it there. It’s unbelievable… (remember to return for my wrap-up of a lion’s lekker lunch!)
Update 2: For those interested in how some large news organisations (traditional media) treat the “little people” of online media read the post by journalism.co.uk, a British journalists’ organisation, who suffered the same fate as myself after posting the video of a rather low-in-brain-cell-count Telegraph travel writer being chomped by a South African lion. Read it here.. Nice.
Jislaaik. Eina! Eish! Heavens to bleedin’ Char, er, Betsy! How was that for you? I thought you’d like that. Better than any pseudo-reality Survivor or Lost show on the telly, huh? I very much enjoyed myself. And, red hat off to Charlie, so did he. He did, didn’t he? He said that he couldn’t wait to tell his mates back home. And, when the doctor or vet or white sangoma or whatever he is said that was the first time he had treated a lion bite, good old Charlie replied: “How cool is that?”.
Very cool, Charlie. It was also, like, totally rad to observe that the good old dig-the-trenches-and-get-stuck-in-old-chap British spirit is surprisingly alive and well after all these years of Brits being globally regarded as a bunch of whingeing losers. You showed us Churchillian derring-do. You showed us a Bruno-istic determination to grab any opportunity to get well beaten up for a laugh, a Flintoffian bravado which enabled you to perform for the cameras despite carrying an injury.
You also showed what I had always thought to be a uniquely South African trait – to ignore a great big “Warning” sign that politely suggests that terrible harm might befall you and go in anyway. And take the word of a typically mischievous Afrikaner that, despite the presence of an animal commonly referred to as the “King of the Jungle” which has big teeth and preys on your sense of fear, it was fine to come over all playful and give it a good shove when the cheeky so-and-so got a bit rough.
Nice. We like that in South Africa. And so do our lions. Gosh. So much to look forward to when the world’s football fans – and incredibly wildlife-friendly British journalists – come to play with us next June.
Welcome to my view from Biltong National Park (BNP). BNP was immaculately conceived in a London basement flat in 1995 when a group of South African expats and a truckload of beer gathered for every minute of the Springboks’ inexorable march to Rugby World Cup glory. Yes, 1995. The year of Francois Pienaaar’s inclusion of 45 million South Africans in the history-making RWC victory, Nelson Mandela’s nation-unifying wearing of Pienaar’s No 6 jersey and Joel Stransky’s last-gasp drop-goal. Fourteen years on, the sporting madness which is Biltong National Park still draws diehard Sharks, Springbok, Proteas and Liverpool fans to my living-room.
That’s the intro bit. Now for your weekend sports review. Enough has been written and said about the Boks’ smashing of New Zealand, notwithstanding the wobbly first 20 minutes of the second half, so I’ll hand you over to Independent Newspapers’ star rugby commentator Mike Greenaway, whose match report got it spot-on (read it… er, I was going to link to Mike’s piece on iol.co.za here but Independent’s plodding and lacklustre apology of a website does not appear to have loaded it). Skande!
Allow me then to pass you on to Bob Skinstad whose post-match interview with a still-sweating Bryan Habana was perhaps the next most articulate and insightful commentary on the “Bashing in Bloem”. The sound isn’t the best so pump up the volume and enjoy Habana’s inside analysis on how the 2009 Tri-Nations might unfold…
Whoo. How was that for you? Nice? I liked it. Reminds me of the time I hit on a blonde in a white miniskirt in “The Dodgy Dog and Duck” in the darkest, deepest part of London’s East End. And her bodybuilder boyfriend came over to ask if “everything was OK?”. What followed led me to suspect that he had, in fact, starred in Snatch. Not so nice. So I was forced to deck him. Yes. I did. No pork. *Cough*