Oh for a politician with a sense of humour. Or at least one with my sense of humour.
It’ll never happen.
We had a great time at the game on Saturday. Beers and prego rolls at &Union, heated debate over the Luis Suarez handball, the awesome Cape Town fan mile and then an entertaining, if rather one sided match at the Cape Town Stadium.
I wouldn’t have even thought about Helen Zille on Saturday if I hadn’t spotted her walking down Bree Street on the way to the match. This is one of the things that impresses me about Zille: she’s so down-to-earth (or if she’s not, she’s a damn good actor). I couldn’t see Zuma or Mbeki or even Tony Leon ever wandering down the back streets of Cape Town CBD to the stadium before heading up to the VIP section.
Anyway, I saw her, I tweeted, I moved on, stadiumward.
The first half went by and we further watched football, drank further beer and had further heated debate over the Luis Suarez handball. I took a quick pic of the front row of the VIP section: Blatter, Zuma, Merkel, Khosa, Zille, Jordaan – they were all there.
It was only when the second half began that I noticed a problem. Helen Zille had not returned to her seat. I was (obviously) filled with concern and I told my followers so:
7 mins of 2nd half gone. @helenzille still not back in her seat. Bad curry last night?
The first two thirds of this was first hand eyewitness stuff. The final third may have been pure speculation, but it was at least based on my own football watching experiences. Why else would anyone miss the first 7 minutes of the second half of such an important game? Or indeed any game?
Surely Delhi Belly is the only reasonable excuse for such behaviour.
11 minutes later and there’s still no sign.
Germany are planning their second goal and Helen is going to miss it.
I let people know:
@helenzille still stuck in toilet. Wilderness Search & Rescue have been called.
By now, “Where is Helen Zille?” and “Bad Curry?” were trending topics on twitter. Possibly.
Concern was mounting, as @simonwillo’s tweet testifies. Germany were anxiously passing it around at the back waiting for Joachim Louw’s signal that Helen was back in her seat and that they were now cleared to go up and pop another one in. The Rand had dropped 2% of its value based on the political instability caused by having the leader of the opposition MIA in a VIP toilet and Mayor Dan Puppet Plato was wondering who was going to tell him what to do now.
But thankfully, the chaos was averted as Helen returned to her seat:
@helenzille is back, but can we have some new loo roll to the Ladies in the VIP please? Thanks.
Dan breathed a huge sigh of relief, the Rand recovered instantaneously and the JSE rose slightly on buoyant toilet tissue sales figures. On the pitch, Miroslav Klose effectively put Argentina out of the World Cup.
All was right with the world and I thought nothing more about the whole politician stuck in the toilet saga until I got up on Sunday morning, all bleary-eyed and bushy-teethed, and checked my email.
And there it was:
At first it seemed as if my somewhat purile tweeting of the previous day had been taken out of context; that somehow, Helen thought I had been poking fun at her. But to unfollow me seemed like a huge over-reaction and wholly pointless, since now she’s hit the QUIT button, everyone can still read what I’m writing about her (or anyone else for that matter), except Ms Zille.
But then I saw the serious side of things.
What if Helen Zille had had a bad curry the previous evening. How would I have known that?
Not only would I have had to have followed her to her restaurant of (poor) choice, I would also have had to have been sat close enough to her to gain the knowledge that she was unhappy with the quality of her main course.
And then – how would I know of the unfortunate and dramatic half-time repercussions of that dodgy balti?
I need to go on record right now and say:
I did not film Helen Zille on the loo on Saturday afternoon.
Nor was I stalking her on Friday evening. I was watching the Ghana game, like the rest of you.
If my tweeting was suggestive that I had access to the VIP loos at the Cape Town Stadium, a la Pavlos Joseph, then it was never meant to be that way. It was merely speculation and if it was actually 100% accurate, well, that was just the fickle nature of fate.
Helen, if you’re reading this (and you surely are), I’m sorry if – by chance – my supposition around your temporary disappearance was concerningly correct in its allegations. I didn’t mean to scare you or insult you (I know you have issues with toilets).
I just didn’t want you to miss the football.