Well we’re half way through the World Cup and I’ve got vuvu ear and a beer belly. The ear is not from the noise but from whacking myself with the damn thing as I tried to negotiate the portaloos at the Fan Fest. The beer belly has appeared all by itself.
Other than that, everything is going superbly here in Cape Town. Even the weather has been amazing much of the time. No doubt the economy has suffered from people skiving off work but those same people have been key in boosting the nation’s spending on essentials such as beer. And face paint. And patriotic wing-mirror socks.
Long Street during the opening ceremony was crazy – the balconies lining the road were packed, all the bars were brimming over and a clamour of people thronged the street. The tangible excitement had me sobbing gently into my drink during the singing of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica.
Then there’s the main Fan Fest – outside the beautiful City Hall with the mountain as a backdrop – which has a capacity for 25 000. I was there when Bafana Bafana beat France 2-1 and I’ve never been hugged by so many strangers. What a bittersweet victory for our boys. At least they went out holding their heads high.
In contrast after Germany humiliated England I saw one England supporter gently reeling, shoulders slumped under his flag, tears running through his face paint and on to his England shirt. But he said he loved Cape Town and Africa and he’d be supporting Ghana from now on and would I give him a kiss go on darling just one. Ah, England – with such fans, how did you lose?
But my favourite experience so far has been the Fan Walk, a 2.6km stretch between the centre of town and the stadium which comes alive on Cape Town match days. I was there last Friday along with a record 72 910 people – yikes! Joseph (now 4) came too and was so overexcited he had to lie down and stroke the astroturf on the side of the road and hug all the trees that we passed. I even caught him licking a lamppost. There were drummers, singers, stilt walkers, laser lights, marching bands, sculptures, rubber puppets of Mandela and Tutu, and tens of thousands of Netherlands supporters in bright orange. It was a warm, clear evening, and as we walked westwards towards the setting sun the mountain behind us blushed orange and pink. Ahead in the darkening evening the massive stadium began to glow. It looked surreal – like a humming space ship and us all the jubilant brainwashed abductees of FIFA.
And now there are just a handful of matches left and – hooray – a few rest days. But who to support? My head says Brazil but my heart, along with most of Africa, shouts Ghana. Go Africa’s pride! What a celebration that would be, and what a boost for the continent in which man kicked his first ball. Probably. Let’s keep this party going!