I decided to take the weekend off from blogging and all in all, it went quite well, aside from the monumental guilt I felt for not blogging. I know that when I don’t blog, I lose readers, but equally, I’m aware that when I blog badly, I also lose readers.
It’s at times like this that I have to remember why I am blogging here.

Posts which get the most feedback are those which tweak people’s metaphorical nipples: those being the political ones, the environmental ones or the ones taking the p… mickey out of the Cape Times letters page. Sadly, recently the local political scene has been hugely depressing, the local environMENTALists quiet (aside from occasional petty and pointless stunts) and the Cape Times letters page unusually sane.

It’s no wonder it’s been so quiet here.

It was much louder this time last year…

Brings a tear to the eye…

Blow for Bafana

Too tired to blog about politics tonight, too irritated to blog about the local supermarket and their disgraceful policy of selling out of date veg, dairy products and meat. So, because Bafana are leading Niger by one goal to nil approaching halftime at the Mbombela Stadium, a gratuitous – MAKE THAT 2-0!!! Bernard Parker, you biscuit! – (ahem) a gratuitous vuvuzela picture.

Much like England’s 4-0 win last night against Bulgaria, it looks like South Africa are going to make a great start to their qualifying campaign. And – were he still awake – this little fellow would be paaarrrping all over the house.

Fortunately for us all – he’s fast asleep upstairs.

The Big Game

Tonight’s the one that many people in Cape Town have been looking forward to – England v Algeria. After a hugely disappointing performance in Rustenburg last week, England will need to step it up at the Cape Town Stadium this evening and I’ll be there to cheer them on. You can follow the evening’s action on Twitter and I’ll get some pics uploaded in the morning after what will undoubtedly be a rather late night. Potentially even later if England get a win and we head back to the Waterfront to down some few beers.
I may even try and do a live blog from the stadium.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the first week of my local radio sport as on-the-spot World Cup correspondent has gone really well. I have been given a dodgy nickname and I have made several incorrect score predictions. The host of the show I’m doing it on has been doing some investigations and has discovered that the man responsible for importing vuvuzelas into the UK lives a few miles from their radio station. They are now planning a flash mob to descend on his house at 5am on Sunday – horns in hand.
Ag shame.

And with that – I think I’m going to go and blow one (cough) and bring the gees back to Cape Town.

Ban the Vuvuzela?

As expected, the vuvuzela is causing a bit of a stir at the World Cup 2010. And it’s prompting a huge number of really silly comments on news sites (BBC, Sky News etc) – mainly from people whining about how they don’t like the noise.

Ag, shame.

It’s like watching the game in the middle of a beehive.

Is it? How exactly have you worked this out, because you seem very sure. Have you got vast experience of watching football matches in apiaries? Wouldn’t the whole stinging thing be worse than the noise, anyway? Presumably, you took some sort of Epi-pen or similar anti-histamine device with you to counteract any anaphylactic shock caused by being repeatedly stung. I could never do that beehive thing.
Admittedly, I did get very drunk and watch a couple of games from Korea/Japan 2002 in an anthill, but ants are pretty quiet and so the atmosphere wasn’t great. I’m not sure I’d be welcome back anyway after I fell over and broke an egg chamber – and my evening ended as I was thrown out by the bouncers. All 1,280,000 of them.
But bees – I might give that a go. Honey sandwiches all round, what ho!

Patrice Evra – We can’t hear one another out on the pitch because of them.

Patrice, dude. I was there on Friday night. It really wasn’t very loud at all. Do you know what I think? I think that your team didn’t get three points because they actually didn’t play very well. Your strikers couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo and your right back had a particularly bad game.
What – that was you? Oh – how embarrassing.
Anyway, it looked to me like Germany didn’t have many problems hearing each other on the pitch last night. Maybe it was a different kind of vuvuzela in Durban. Or maybe they just have louder voices. Or maybe they actually just played well.
And it’s not like you Frenchies don’t have a bit of history with annoying trumpets at your stadiums, is it? Who could forget that horrid little fanfare thing you repeatedly played over the PA systems at the 2007 Rugby World Cup to occasionally keep people interested? Or that annoying singing sound you call La Marseillaise?

Presumably Thierry and Sidney were blaming the ball for their errant shooting as well. It’s true that it does fly slightly differently at altitude, but then you weren’t at altitude for Friday’s match. Well – you were at about 15m altitude, I suppose. Would you like us to move all the stadiums to sea level for you? The salt water won’t do the grass much good, but then you can blame the pitch as well.
I did note that Germany were also virtually playing on the beachfront last night and I have to say that my good mate Miroslav didn’t seem to have much trouble with getting shots on target.
Probably a different ball thing, right?

Also – no protests from Mexico, who faced a 90,000-strong plastic trumpet army on Friday.
But then, they’re not French, are they?

I find them very uninspiring and I have to get up leave the room.

Patrice? Is that you again?
No – it’s some England fan from England commenting on the Sky News site. And he’s proving himself wrong. How can he call them uninspiring when he is inspired to get up and leave the room? That’s inspiration right there.
I was also inspired to get up and leave the room by Robert Green’s horror show and England’s lacklustre performance on Saturday evening, but as long as we’re talking about vuvuzelas, we’re not talking about that, are we? It’s Julius Malema style diversion tactics (as copied by Patrice Evra).
And anyway, could it have been a surprise blast from a plastic trumpet that made the England keeper spill that weak effort into the goal? Or perhaps the fear that he was being attacked by some bees?

Ha! What a pathetic shot, Mr Dempsey. I won’t even need to get my body behind that one, even though it’s the first thing they teach you at goalie school. I’ll just – ARGH! BEES! I’M BEING ATTACKED BY SOME BEES! – oops!

Look. The vuvuzela is part of the African football experience. I’m sorry you don’t like it. But what you like is not of interest to me right now – you want a World Cup in Africa, then have an African World Cup. Otherwise, let’s just go back in sterile Germany every four years with their wonderful trains, half-decent Weissbier and concerning habit of occasionally annexing other nearby nations.
Actually, it’s my concern that the traditional samba drums will prevent players hearing each other on the pitch in Brazil in 2014. But although we’re all aware of that potential issue right now, several years in advance, let’s rather wait until the first few days of the tournament and then have all the players and fans of teams that turn in below-par performances complain bitterly about it.

Ban the vuvuzela? Good luck to you.
As the (South African influenced) Kaiser Chiefs once sang: “I predict a riot”.

EDIT: Sepp’s on my side

EDIT 2: Pierre de Vos hits the real nail on the head.

There’s good and bad

Now and again, people accuse me of doing the whole ostrich thing. Not the having huge eggs that a grown man can stand on, but the burying one’s head in the sand thing. I know that it’s a popular misconception that ostriches actually do this, but I’m willing to go along with it, at least for the purposes of this post.
I do dispute that I do the whole ostrich thing, though. Being a positive or optimistic person is only any use if you have a over-riding accompaniment of realism on a sideplate. Blind optimism is as foolish as pessimism – it achieves nothing and gets you nowhere.

As an example – the new Koeberg flyover. I had high hopes for this ending the misery of the constant queues around the N1/M5 junction. This is healthy optimism. And they opened the first of the new flyovers (the southbound one, in case you’re interested) this week. And it does seem to have had some effects. Just not all good ones.  In their wisdom and in an effort to remove the queues, they have – as a side-effect – channeled all the M5 traffic through one lane. In short, it doesn’t work.
This is realism. Blind optimism would ignore this heinous deficiency and wax lyrical about the speed of the flyover.
I’m not into that.

Furthermore, I was unimpressed by Cape Town Airport’s efforts to welcome international visitors to the World Cup. My main criticism is that there was actually no effort whatsoever. No flags, no posters, no noise, no fuss. And there needs to be fuss. This is the World Cup, for heavens sake. Even the “World Cup Welcome” desks were empty – and that’s shocking. Perhaps as shocking as my vocalising this annoyance may come to some readers of this site. But there’s no value in ignoring the deficiencies of this country or any other. How are things supposed to improve then?

But I do want to finish on a positive note. And that’s my prerogative.

I think that if there is one symbol that will become synonymous with this World Cup tournament, it is the vuvuzela. And I was lucky enough to win one, which was delivered to me today.

Just check out that beadwork in Proudly South African colours. Absolutely stunning.

And that’s what realistic optimism is all about. Enjoying the positives while not ignoring the negatives.

Tomorrow is the big day. Opening ceremony, Bafana Bafana v Mexico, France v Uruguay.
We’ve been waiting six years.

Ke nako.