First of all, WHY ARE ALL THE CAMERA CREWS AND CAMERAMEN WHITE ? Well, I am outside Ellis Park under a huge block size banner with Angelina Jolie in concert on it. I step in front of a camera to the suprise of the reporter going live somewhere, and utter the above statement.
He says that he is Chilean. I immediately apologize to TV Chile audience, saying that I love Chilean wine and empanadas, Valparaiso is great, LAN CHILE is a wonderful airline, and I support Cobrelao FC. I HOPE this is enough to have an invite back one day. However, 90% of the media are white and you see very few blacks with microphones or cameras. Well, that is off my back.
It is now Saturday and darling Lydia who usually makes my superb breakfast is off for two days. So, Gys, the Victoria Hotel owner stands in and does a fine job. He is an Afrikaaner who enjoys my blogs but language sometimes gets in the way of understanding my British sarcasm. I want to go to Sandton this afternoon and later to Ellis Park for Paraguay v Spain in the last of the quarter-finals. The taxis outside want R450, so its the Metrorail for me. Only R7.50 to Rhodesfield Station, where I can change for the GAUTRAIN to Sandton Station.
It's the native train which stops at all stations on the way to Park Station, Johannesburg. Big Problem-it wizzes past Rhodesfield so I get off at the next one. I explain to some police constables about my problem. NO PROBLEM ! They take me outside the station to their commander, relaxing in a brand new 6 seater truck.
He tells me to jump in and with two of his constables he takes me to the Rhodesfield GAUTRAIN station. His name is Inspector Willy and we chat about the World Cup, fast trains in Europe and Gautrain which he has never experienced. We arrive to see a 200 metre line at the station. Luckily, I have a Gautrain Gold Launch Edition oyster card which I bought the first day of operartion, and added R100 for the 15 minute hop from O.R.Tambo Airport to Sandton. I go to the front of the line, load R21 for the trip to Sandton. You can actually walk 500 metres from the airport to this stop and save R79.
Chatting to lots of passengers I find they are all trying it out for the first time on this sunny day It runs each way every 12 minutes from about 5.30 am to 8.30pm. In a few months time it will extend to Pretoria and Hatfield one direction and past Sandton to Rosebank and Park station in the other. 160 kph and no traffic jams or parking problems.
Mandela Square and then the huge malls. Packed like the day before Christmas. Expensive restaurants and shops, a SONY 3 D TV oudoor theatre, lots of shops for everything, a gigantic food mall, two huge supermarkets and much more. I go to the VODACOM Service Centre where they fix my phone that hasn't been receiving my emails, add some minutes and charge it while I watch Argentina v Germany on their huge flat screens. lots of Spanish fans, few Paraguayans and an air of excitement prior to the fourth and last of the quarter finals.
NO CONTEST. 4-0 ! Germany OWNS Argentina. Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Bayern, ... ..better add Argentina as the next German state. Joachim Loew, who looks a cross between a young Dustin Hoffman and Peter Pan, has his young team well organized, fit and speedy. IT'S the REAL RAINBOW NATION. a multi coloured, multi ethnic, multi TALENTED squad. It is the FIFTEENTH World Cup that I have watched either on black and white then colour T.V. and live, and people always ask me who will win the World Cup. Each time I reply" Whoever it is, has to beat the Germans or have them beaten for you." TRUE this time again.
For Armando Diego Maradona it's probably time to take off his expensive suit, put on a rubber sweat suit, return to Cuba and his beloved Fidel Castro, smoke some cigars, play chess and flip a peso coin to decide which poor unfortunate budding democrat faces the firing squad in the morning. As EVITA PERON said, Don't Cry for Me Argentina. WELL, the rest of the world won't especially Pele.
Outside Ellis Park I stop for a second time at the Shell Plaza with its busy petrol station, shop and Debonair Pizza. I order a hot Club pizza again from a guy who is so well organized and efficient that I think I must be in Europe. He says his name is M.C. and the owner of Ellispark Auto(Pty) Ltd . We exchange cards. M.C. Lamprecht. Under pressure it is super service and just enough to fill me up, washed down with a bottle of lime flavoured water. M.C. you should be running this country!! Move over Jacob Zuma!
At the ticket entrance to Ellis Park I bump into Gary from the red half of Merseyside. Most fans either have tickets or have gone home or are in front of a T.V. set. Five minutes to kick-off. We see some locals who want to sell two R2,100 category 1 tickets.($250.00 US each) We bargain down to BOTH for R600 and are inside. We miss the national anthems, darn it!! but should get our money's worth !!!
The first half is a bit of a bore. I should have brought some knitting, or my book 'The Rise and Fall of Maradona, part II The END'. Two missed penalties awarded by the Guatemalan referee, the second one taken twice, and the late winner from David Villa for Spain, Champions of Europe. They look rough around the edges. What about Holland v Germany at Soccer City on July 11th, for a repeat of the 1974 Final in Munich?