Wonderful news. It now emerges that I needn’t have plugged Maths in matric after all.
All I had to do to improve on the 16 per cent I scraped together after spending two hours playing noughts-and-crosses on my Maths paper was to get my Dad to rig up a battery-powered electrical current and fit a couple of electrodes to my bonce.
Then, when the adjudicator, in a voice not dissimilar to the bloke who does the punts for movies and says “Coming to a cinema near you… The Revenge Of The Malevolent Mathematical Under-Achievers..”, sounding like a mongrelly cross-breed of Tom Waits and Benito Mussolini, pronounced “Pupils, you may now pick up your pens and commence”, I would have simply switched on and come over all Einstein in an instant. Instead of staring at him blankly and musing over whether Miss van Straaten, my dead-sexy Afrikaans teacher, was wearing a mini that day.
Nooit, man! What do you mean e doesn't equal ac/dc squared?!
No formula or equation would have been beyond me. Trigonometry would have proved a piece of piss. I would have nailed Pythagoras’s poncy theorem quicker than you can say “Hatman’s a genius” – even if you hired one of those chicks who reveal the specials on Vim over the PA system in supermarkets to make the announcement.
But, no, they’ve typically left me to wallow in decades of guilt before announcing that running a slight current of electricity from one side of your brain to the other is a cure for something termed “dyscalculia” which, like my Attention Deficit Disorder, neanderthalitis, hypertrichosis (excessive growth of hairs in ears) and dofclobberitis (the inability to look anywhere remotely near fashionable), has only been dropped on me in an advanced stage of my life.
Nice. A classic piece of scientific discovery. The boffins emerge from sterile-white labs and wave around a piece of paper which makes absolute sense of something disastrous that happened to you about 54 years ago. Helpful.
But I mustn’t be so self-indulgent. If fitting a pantechnicon battery into a South African child’s “Ek hart Wayne Rooney” rucksack and releasing a few thousand volts through the cerebral deserts where grey matter is as rare as a Bafana victory helps to send our Matric pass rate soaring, I’m all for it.
So, fire up your synapses the best you can and zoom over to the BBC\’s health news site to be further stimulated. And, please, don’t buy into all that politically correct “don’t try this at home” codswallop. You want to pass Maths, right? Right.
Well, just get the old man to rehabilitate an old battery and attach to the parietal lobe around the back of your head somewhere. I suggest you have a word with your Biology teacher about this first. You don’t want to stick the electrodes on the wrong lobe and sardenly fand yu karnt spel.
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!
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.
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.
So, in this extraordinary piece of video, Wayne Rooney can be heard having a little post-Algeria match rant against the England fans who booed the team in Cape Town last night.
Have a watch… and then we’ll, how does one say, break it all down…
That’s right. That’s what he said. Something like “Nice to be booed by your own supporters.” Just a drop of sarcasm in there, my Hatpeople.
OK. Two points I’d like to make.
1) I applaud, not boo, Wayne Rooney for feeling passionately enough about playing for England to say that in the first place. But I would also boo him and the other England players for not finding it in themselves to produce better football than the rubbish we are seeing from them at this World Cup.
2) What does he expect? People don’t work their sweet asses off week in, week out for four years to save up enough dosh to spend a few weeks on the other side of the world… only to watch the national team perform like the Green Point under-14 D team. If Rooney’s disappointed, then how do the fans feel? Directly, or indirectly, it is the fans’ money which makes Wayne Rooney and his team-mates among the highest-paid sportsmen in the world. If I were an England fan, I’d have every right to expect more value for my money.
And the English media, which feeds off the travails of England’s football “gods”, is primarily to blame. It builds them up every four years to be the best thing since, er, Alf Ramsey’s world conquerors of 1966. And then, yes, takes a vicarious pleasure in knocking them down to being mere mortals again when they fail.
Methinks there is something rotten in the state of England. And it is somehow manifested in that piece of video we just watched.
Did you know that Stanford, my adopted village which luxuriates lasciviously in a fold within the Klein River mountains in the Western Cape, is a cultural hotspot? No, you didn’t, did you? I thought as much. Report to my desk after class – you haven’t done your homework.
So, then you wouldn’t know that Stanford, South Africa, is twinned with New York (US of A) and London (England). Well, I’ll let you off for that one because it isn’t. Not yet. I will be having a word with the mayors of NYC and London about this. Stanford, a miniscule if perfectly formed village, doesn’t want to be twinned with the whole cities of London and New York, just the bits with which we share something in common. Like the West End and South Bank in London and Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway in New Yoik.
Cultural twinning, you see. Because we’re a cultured lot here. You only have to witness the hilarious pantomime at the Stanford Arms after midnight on any Friday to begin to absorb that.
Right. In about 96 hours time, 94,700 crazy people will be frenzying around inside the illuminated calabash that is Johannesburg’s Soccer City as South Africa and Mexico light the wick of the fizz-pop fandango that is to be the 2010 World Cup.
And stretching across every country on our globe, billions will crane their necks to get the best view possible of the opening match. They will see many things on Saturday night… and one view may be this visual treat…
Jo'burg's Soccer City: not an altogether shabby football ground, is it?
No, we quite like it. Not as aesthetically gorgeous as Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, perhaps, but it’ll do. Fine. So the globe is going to get to see a lot of Jo’burg, Durbs and Cape Town. And maybe a bit more of Bloemfontein and Rustenburg than they would bargain for. But what of South Africa’s small towns, verdant-valleyed villages and rusty-hued hamlets, secreted away behind mountains and filed away, collecting dust, in corners of deserts?
Well, what of them? Are there flags flying in their rutted main roads? Are there rainbow-razzmatazz mirror socks being worn by their donkey-carts? Well? I think, if you wandered into the Karoo today, you’d get a big surprise. And I have another surprise for you.
If you drove out of Cape Town on the R43 tomorrow, bounced over Sir Lowry’s Pass and snaked past the whale-watchers’ paradise of Hermanus, you would – after two hours or so – come across a sumptuous Overberg village that goes by the name of Stanford. You would have to look out for it because you could easily miss it. As many poor, unsuspecting travellers do. But if you catch sight of the Sir Robert Stanford wine estate and you started to slow down next to the Syringa Kennels, you would notice the entrance to the town.
Continue for 250 metres or so down Queen Victoria Street, the main drag, and you will stumble upon this…
Stanford Village Green: not quite Soccer City... but it's ours Pic: Hatman
Yes, that’s our green (well, it’ll be greener after the winter rains). A lot of things happen on this village green. Cricket, horse races, sunset markets, biggest pumpkin competitions… but mostly ladies walking their dogs after a satisfactory afternoon tea. And, I have discovered, it’s a great place to lie on one’s back and stargaze after a hefty night down the pub.
Unlike those crammed into Soccer City this weekend, we won’t be seeing any stars on the field. But we’re doing the best we can. Folks, roll up… roll up to the Overstrand Rainbow Five-a-side Soccer Extravaganza. Our village green will be transformed into a mini-football fest with local teams puffing about, trying to settle old scores, market stalls, coaching clinics… and probably one or two ladies pretending not to notice while walking the dog after yet another highly satisfactory cream tea.
Yes, that’s how we roll in quaint, beautiful Stanford, one of the finest preserved Victorian villages in the fairest Cape. But roll we do. The media will be there to document the festivities. Not Sky Sports or the London Guardian or ESPN or the New York Times. But the Stanford River Talk, the Hermanus Times, Whale Talk Magazine, Whale Coast 96.5fm, the Fasttrax Marine film company and the Fijn Bush Telegraph will be reporting on our main World Cup event, so that people tending to their farms in even more isolated parts of our little piece of the world will learn of it.
Here is the authentic heartbeat of our great country, tiny specks on the map which will not see the likes of Messi, Rooney and Kaka in the flesh. But we will have fun anyway. And the proceeds of our fun will go to the Hermanus Trust, a local educational and social NGO, and the benefits will be felt long after the last ball is kicked.
Local businesses taking part are, among others, La Finestra Restaurant, Stanford Hills Estate, Pam Golding (Stanford), Stanford River Talk, Gypseys Restaurant and Birkenhead Brewery. the first match kicks off at 9am on Friday, June 11 with the final being played on Saturday, June 12. A floating trophy will be presented to the winning team.
So to those fortunate enough to watch Steven Pienaar split the Mexican defence with an inch-perfect pass for Katlego Mphela on Saturday, we Stanfordians say: “Give them horns, guys!” And, we solemnly promise, if we spot a new Steven Pienaar in the making on our village green this weekend, we’ll start grooming him for the 2018 World Cup. Ayoba!
Not all of you are totally as one with what football and the World Cup is all about. For those who could be accurately described as soccer ignoramuses to get the most out of their World Cup viewing, here is some sort of non-essential 10-point guide to what they call The Beautiful Game…
1. “Soccer” is really football. Well, this is what it is called in Britain, where the game originated, but that confused the Americans because they already had American football (grid-iron, that game they play while wearing spacesuits). So they renamed it “sarker” (ie soccer, which is an abbreviation of “Association Football”, the official British name given to distinguish football from Rugby Football which, as everyone at the Stanford Arms on a Saturday evening knows, is rugby, or “ruckby” in Afrikaans). It’s fine if you are confused… because we all are!
2. There is a saying, attributed to “a certain Chancellor of Cambridge University” and quoted in the Times of London on January 30, 1953, which goes… “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen”. This appears to be generally true although it perhaps should now be updated to “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen, apart from Bakkies Botha”. Rugby fans could also be forgiven for changing this to “Soccer is a wussy game played by sissies” due to the over-the-top rolling around in “extreme agony” executed by soccer players when they recognise the opportunity to get an opponent cautioned (yellow carded) or even sent off (red carded) after any decent tackle which is unlikely to even result in the tackled player receiving the slightest bruise.
Oh, dear. When soccer players aren't rolling around like big girls blouses trying to get opponents sent off, they celebrate goals like this. Not ideal.
3. OK. Time for some other basic rules. Football used to be played between two teams each consisting of 11 on-field players, a couple of substitutes (who replaced an on-field player if he died) and a manager who would do all the coaching of the players. It is now played by two teams consisting of 11 on-field players, at least five substitutes (who come on to replace a player if he is bleeding in any way or if he has picked up a bruise or if he is feeling tired and feels like a sip of Energade or if his hairstyle has been spoilt or if time needs to be wasted towards the end of the 90 minutes to ensure a draw or a win), a manager, several coaches (goalkeeping, defensive, attacking and general method acting), a psychotherapist, a specialist dietician and a small army of hairdressers. Plus a whole bunch of other hangers-on who I’m not going to bother telling you about.
4. Right. Now the whole point of a game is for one of the 10 out-field players (the goalkeeper, who wears a different colour jersey, generally stays in the goals to try to stop the other team from scoring) to whack the ball using any part of his body apart from his hands into the opposing team’s goal. This is called a goal. And you need to score more of them than the other team to win. If both teams score the same number of goals (eg. 1-1, 2-2 etc) after the “normal period” of 90 minutes, then the match, if is part of a knock-out competition such as the World Cup (apart from the group games), goes to extra-time (two halves of 15 minutes) and if, after that, it is still a draw, a penalty shoot-out ensues. This is a reasonably modern addition to the game to stop a replay having to take place and to indulge the modern fan’s predilection for instant gratification.
5. Fine. Still with me? Good! OK. Player formations. This was very simple back in the day. There was the goalkeeper (who wore No 1 on his back), two full-backs (No’s 2 and 3), a centre-back (No 5), two wing-halves (No’s 4 & 6) and, up front, there was a right-wing (7), inside-right (8), centre-forward (9), inside-left (10) and left-wing (11). Nice and simple, hey? Today, of course, we need it to be more complicated. The goalkeeper has stayed the same and generally wears No 1 on his back but coaches like to, depending on whether the team is playing at home or away and who they are playing against, use a variety of formations: 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers), 4-3-3, 5-3-2 or, in the case of Inter Milan’s semi-final second leg against Barcelona in this year’s Champions League (in which they were defending a 3-1 lead away from home) 9-0-1 (nine defenders and one very bored striker). With the amount of money at stake these days, it’s win at all costs, bru. Or get sacked.
6. Talking of money, which we know makes our greedy world go round and certainly makes the very professional round-ball game go round and round, we now get to the really important facts. Top-level players in the English Premier League get paid between 50 and 150 thousand pounds sterling a week. By their clubs. For playing football. Yes. That averages out at about R1.4 million a week. Can you imagine being 25, being of below average intelligence and coining it like that? That’s why many pro footballers get into trouble. After they’ve bought the mansion, the Aston Martin, the Lamborghini and the gold-plated Playstation, they often start spending the rest on naughty things, get caught out by a tabloid newspaper, have to explain their behaviour to their girlfriends and mummies and become even more famous. And then they carry on playing football, become even more famous and get paid more money. Nice work if you can get it, hey?
Victoria Beckham: Well ropey. With a WAG like this, a footballer could be excused for playing away. Or sticking to kissing his team-mates.
7. Because these players earn so much dosh for doing so little and become so famous, they usually only date topless models and then marry fully clothed models and dodgy pop singers. Yes, like Victoria Beckham (formerly Posh Spice). Even if you know nothing about football, you will know about this phenomenon. WAGs (or Wives And Girlfriends). Then famous footballer and famous wife “endorse” all sorts of washing-up products, shampoos and budgie cages and become even more wealthy and famous. And this is because many among us like to watch Gossip TV, read OK! Magazine and believe all the dross put out by agents and ad agencies who live similar lifestyles. I’m not at all jealous. No, really. But I digress… back to football.
8. By the time you read this, there will be less than two weeks to go before the World Cup opening ceremony at our magnificent Soccer City Stadium in Jo’burg. It’s a great shame that it is not called Nelson Mandela Stadium instead of being made to sound like a giant shopping mall selling only footballs. But there’s nothing you and I can do about that. What we can do is choose to embrace the 2010 World Cup being held in our beautiful country or not. It’s up to you. Unless you live here in Stanford, our tranquil oasis, and don’t buy newspapers or switch on the TV for a month. In which case life will continue pretty much as normal. But I urge you to take an interest in the most wonderful thing to ever happen to us. Buy a Bafana Bafana jersey (make sure it’s not a fake), blow a vuvuzela (but not after 10pm at night and certainly nowhere near the Arts Cafe where you’ll only upset the cappucino crowd) and at least attend the local soccer tournament being held on the village green on June 11. It’s going to be a lekker jol.
9. There will be 32 nations represented at this World Cup. They include Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina (who take turns to win it) and countries such as Honduras (somewhere in South America), Slovenia (which used to be part of another country and is somewhere in the Balkans) and the USA (which used to be restricted to North America but now seems to be everywhere). The 32 squads are split into eight groups of four. The top two teams in each group after the group games go through to the last 16 and start the knock-out phase until two teams are left to contest the final on July 11. I exhort you to be patriotic and support Bafana Bafana (which translates into “The Boys” in English) but you’d be delusional to expect them to make the final. But we live in hope. And we South Africans are better at living in hope than winning really important international soccer matches. So you never know.
10. OK. Please focus. This is the most important thing about the World Cup. I’m really sorry about all those locals who got really excited and turned their homes into guesthouses for one month of football in the hope of making a quick buck and becoming as rich as Wayne Rooney. It was never going to happen. And it won’t. Football fans the world over are generally working-class and won’t spend much on anything other than alcohol, take-aways and riotous visits to various brothels. They’d rather sleep on a park bench and have more cash to spend on beer the next day. No, the “Big Win” for South Africa will come in a couple of years’ time when those billions of wealthier people all over the planet, after watching South Africa show off it’s natural splendour and human warmth during the World Cup, might decide to take their holidays here. And bring aircraft carrier-loads of dosh to throw at game parks, hotels, wine estates, restaurants and fancy shops. So the real spin-offs will be felt in years to come. So much to look forward to. Be patient. Just as well we South Africans are good at doing that too, hey?
*This article was originally commissioned by Stanford River Talk, the excellent community newspaper for the ridiculously beautiful village of Stanford in the Western Cape, and appears in its June issue
As avid readers of this “SA-positive” blog will freely tell you, I seldom post about glamour. I like to keep it real. OK, so I might make a rare exception when my close friend Genevieve Morton, when she’s not palpitating the hearts of the world’s photographers, pops around. But more of Gen later.
Yes, unlike another good friend Seth Rotherham of 2oceansvibe infamy, I’m not very into glamour. Let’s immediately get down to changing that.
Have you noticed how South Africa’s media are getting just a tad excited about the so-called WAGs (wives and girlfriends for those of you living in Kakamas) of the footballers about to arrive here for THE World Cup of all World Cups? “Football fans will struggle to keep their eyes on the boys,” pants TimesLive, usually a rather sober commentator on all matters South African.
I think not. In fact, sod that, I strongly disagree.
Take two footballers widely exhorted to be the best in the world. Lionel “The Flea” Messi (Barcelona and Argentina) and Wayne “Garden Gnome” Rooney (Manchester United and England). Now neither of them are themselves oil paintings, or even vaguely appealing watercolours you might expect to pick up in the bargain bin at your local arts society fundraiser.
I mean, have a butchers at this…
Lionel Messi: so ugly that I had to publish a flattering cartoon image
I’m sorry. Being unkind is not at all my vibe but… Gerard Depardieu’s ugly little boet or what?
And it’s not about to get much better. Here’s Rooney…
Wayne Rooney: About to attempt a self-makeover by gouging his own eyes out
Look. That was a bit harsh but you are getting my point, right? Right. But, actually, the fact that both Messi and Rooney look like the back of a vintage Putco bus is not the point at all. The point is, well, their partners.
As a true football fan, the looks of footballers is not at all important. It’s all about the skills, isn’t it? The way Messi can dawdle around the pitch for an hour, lulling the opposing defence into an all-encompassing sense of false security, then latch on to the ball, effortlessly sidle past several players and dink the ball over the goalkeeper for the most sublime of goals. The way Rooney can pinball his gnomish frame around a pitch for every one of 90 minutes, bouncing off any opponent who dares to get in his way, roundly abuse the ref every time the whistle blows and still find time to arse a winner by getting his big bum in the way of a cross. Sorry. I’m a Liverpool supporter.
But you do get my drift. What I don’t get is how, given that these okes earn a few million rand a week and thereby have supermodels salivating over their wallets like flies over a boerie roll, they dare bring fifth-string WAGs to our country.
Our girls at Caprice aren’t exactly going to engage reverse to let this lot through to the loo, are they?
Colleen Rooney: No flies on her... despite eating all the boerie rolls
I’m ashamed of myself. That was just cruel. Let’s see if we can show off Mr and Mrs Rooney in a kinder light…
Wayleen: all dolled up for a braai in Bellville
Aah, that’s better. I’ll stop apologising now. And I make no apologies for introducing you to Antonella Roccuzzo, Messi’s girlfriend…
Leo's choice of chica with childbearing hips is unlikely to have South Africa's top-tier angels staring miserably into their Pinacoladas
Safe to say that, blessed as we are in South Africa with the world’s most outrageously gorgeous women, our men will be totally focused on what’s happening on the pitch. And I suspect the much-trumpeted WAGs will take refuge in their hotel rooms, furiously texting friends back home about how terrified they are to venture out to the bars and clubs. And we, dear Hatpeople, will – nudge, nudge – know the real reason for that…
All South African Gen Morton: just one of the real reasons for that.
There are a lot of South Africans hopping up and down ahead of our World Cup, just 56 days away.
There are those who are hopping and down – it’s called toyi-toying – in our streets while they kick over refuse bins and make a right mess of the cities in their demand for a better wage deal for municipal workers. Perfectly understandable. It is an accepted fact that disgruntled workers will go on strike shortly before a major sports event in their country because it gives them big, fat leverage to extort a better deal from their panicky employers. Fine.
Not exactly ideal... no, it's not fans queueing for a World Cup ticket, it's the municipal workers protesting for better wages Pic: oryxmedia.co.za
Then there are the rest of us (well, most of the rest of us) who are jumping up and down in pure and unadulterated excitement that the World Cup, yes, THE World Cup will be a-happening in our country, South Africa, in just a few weeks time. Sheez. Messi, Kaka, Rooney, Torres… all here, on our beautiful doorstep. Put out the biggest “Welcome” mat you can find. Oh, and Steven Pienaar, of course. And let’s hope we’ll be reading more about the level-headed Everton and Bafana star than that Benni McCarthy, who doesn’t seem to have a head at all.
Then there are some who are jumping up and down and pointing an accusative finger at Fifa and screaming “Why aren’t my rooms full?!”
OK. This is where it gets a bit awkward. And forgive me for being blunt. I’ve been saying this for some time. Football fans are not generally white-collar workers, professionals, lawyers, doctors and financiers with bulging wallets. As is the case here in South Africa, soccer fans are working class, putting aside the money earned in the factories, mines and general industria to watch their team on a Saturday. They live for the weekend, for the game, for the victory for their local team.
Putting aside enough cash for the match ticket and a few drinks on a Saturday is one thing. Saving for a long-haul flight (return) to a distant country in the southern hemisphere plus enough for food, accommodation and a truckload of alcohol is quite another.
My point is… the only people who can afford, especially given the global economic crisis, to swan around South Africa for a month (or even part thereof) and pay the inflated prices being asked are people in relatively high-paid jobs. This is not your average football fan. The vast majority which eats, breathes, lives the round-ball game. Hence the less-than-manic demand for World Cup 2010 ticket packages from overseas.
Now, please pay attention. This is not all doom and gloom. Why? Because, despite what many have been hoping, South Africa and its bed-and-breakfast owners, its restaurateurs and it’s tourism operators were not given a get-rich-quick scheme (as in one month) by Fifa.
Many will benefit to some degree. But World Cup 2010 was always going to offer just three things: 1) A glorious celebration by the world, especially South Africa, of the most beautiful game 2) an unparalleled opportunity for South Africa to market our sumptuous country to the billions watching the soccer on television back home, and 3) some employment, but not nearly enough, for the huge number of unemployed here in South Africa.
End of story. Finish en klaar. But, from where I sit, something very wonderful has come out of the fact that our foreign footy fans largely haven’t been able to afford to come to check out South Africa’s sights (and stay in our guesthouses and hotels, eat our food, drink our pubs dry and make big moves on our gorgeous women).
And that wonderful thing is that this has forced the match ticket prices down to a point where our LOCAL soccer fans can afford to buy them. How cool is that? South Africans, ordinary, working-class South Africans, can now fill up our breathtakingly beautiful new stadiums and be part of the mega-celebration. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to experience a World Cup at first hand.
Because, likewise, THEY cannot afford to just jump on a plane and go to watch a World Cup finals elsewhere in the world. And what good energy they will bring to the party! Blow those vuvus, guys! And show the world how South Africans can have a bloody good time at a football match without getting drunk to the point at which abusing your opposing fans and ripping up seats to throw at them becomes more entertaining than the match itself.
This is what World Cup 2010 will be all about... South Africans showing the world how to have one crazy party at a football match!
No, I’m loving how our World Cup is panning out. Fewer English drunks to contrive pathetic charges at German and Argentinian fans in our city centres. Fewer Italian ultras to whip up ugly scenes on the terraces. Were I a South African policeman, I’d be well chuffed. The security chiefs must be rubbing their hands in glee.
This 2010 World Cup is working out to be exactly how I want it to be. The People’s World Cup. South Africa’s World Cup. A massive celebration of the beautiful game by the people who spend their hard-earned wages week in and week out on following their club, be it Kaizer Chiefs or some hardy bunch giving their all on a dusty field somewhere in the sticks.
Take it, my fellow South Africans, and turn this World Cup into one phenomenal celebration of the best of humanity. One big, happy and peaceful party. Show the world how we South Africans truly are. Because many among the foreign media have chosen to distort the picture to make out that we are a nation almost entirely made up of white AWB fanatics or Julius Malema acolytes.
And, as we know, these extremes couldn’t be further from our truth. Wear the yellow, wave the Rainbow flag, let your blood run green, blow those vuvus as loud as you can and celebrate the World Cup – and your South Africanness. As only we South Africans can. And let’s put on such a magnificent spectacle that those watching all over the world will be left in no doubt that our beloved country is worth spending their money on. Yes, the full benefits of a peaceful and joyous World Cup will only be felt in the years to come. Over to you!