Posted: 6/13/2010
Title: HOWARD'S END AND THE MISSING ROYAL GOATS

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       It's a two hour bus ride to Rustenburg from Pretoria and the bus was only R120 round trip, about $15.00. Great highways and it looks a lot like New Mexico with pretty hills and scrub. We bypass Rustenburg which is home to wealthy farmers and arrive 4 hours early at The Royal Bafekong Stadium.

      This may not be the end of the world, but you can see it from here. It's in the middle of nowhere in a desert setting and sits of very valuable land containing platinum that the kingdom has used to offer free health care, education, cheap housing and more for the citizens of the kingdom. The nation has history from 1140 and is led by an hereditary king (called a Kgos) currently Kgos Leruo Molotlegi. Outside this World Cup venue I am dressed in an England wig, cape, flags, holding a blow-up hand and with an England scarf and Union Jack spectacles and England sandles. I got a lot of looks.

      10 metres from the stadium fence there are 25 tethered goats, oblivious of what's about to happen to them and the world, and they like their minute of fame as I take pictures on my phone camera.  My battery is low so I go to the Al Jazeera van(the Arabic news service) and they let me plug into their generator. I move off for food and find a tiny shack with a long line, but roadside people offer water and meat on their improvized braai(barbecue) grills, sausages and goat meat. I then take my plug to the Brazilian O GLOBO van and do a short interview and the technician called Dave was at UT Austin like me and lived in Rio de Janeiro and now in NYC, so we have a great chat.

       I go back to take more pics. of the goats, and only count 24 !!! I guess with the crowd approaching in the next hours more lives and blood will be spilt to satisfy the demand of English and USA fans. IF THEY ONLY KNEW how fresh their lunch was.

       I am looking very hard for my friend Russ who has flown in with friends from Hong Kong for a week and who went with me on a rail tour in Europe, many years ago. It gets dark about 5.00pm and there is little illumination. FIFA has failed miserably with the signs on the perimeter fences. When you can find one it doesn't state with an arrow or dot YOU ARE HERE, so are useless. Actually the tickets are the same. A stadium pictograph half the size of my thumb nail and again no indications apart from an arrow but no N,S, E, West, for example.

      You all saw the match and the contrast in the goalies. Robert Green was Cinderella, missing the ball, while Howard was brilliant-The Teflon Kid-he stuck to everything!!  Howards End was a famous movie shot at Castle Howard, not more than an hour or so from where I live. The stadium is pretty basic. It reminded me of the National Stadium in Tokyo that I went to for the Olympic Games  back in 1964!!! and most stadiums are much improved since then.

       Our $130.00  Category 1 seats were small plastic ones with a shaky back. When you leaned back the stick-on seat numbers fell off. The two screens at either end didn't work, the floodlights were below par, and the ball boys were confused-just like Robert. England fans put their flags and banners all over as you saw, with their home clubs, cities and even their own names on the St. George's cross, and outsang the Yanks throughout. However it was a moral vicory for coach Bob and his boys and a well deserved vital point.

     You all saw the match and replay after replay and the wonderful opening goal from inspired captain Steven Gerrard and Clint Dempsey's equaliser after a tame shot in the 40th minute that Green will NEVER FORGET. I won't say too much about matches, more about backgrounds, colour and the BACK STORY in my daily blogs.

     The transport system worked. There were big buses and the small 15 seat new Toyota fans which were on time and took us home safely. My small band of 7 new friends who started out changed buses and drivers and he got lost via downtown Rustenburg. We got to see all the sights-the many upmarket auto dealerships and petrol stations on the one main street-three times I think, before the driver found the highway. Back in bed though by 1.30 am. in quiet downtown Pretoria, until it was Vuvezela time at 7.00am on an African Sunday-too soon for me. The show goes on and on.

     Send 10 or so names of your friends and email addresses, and they can read my blog daily during FIFA World Cup 2010.

    

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