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.
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.