The Only Cin Finally Feels the FIFA Love
Our men and children were guests of Mahindra at the England / America football game. We were alone and at leisure to eat, drink and be quite merry. And we did.
I left Linda sitting at our table. We’d feasted; she on a seafood platter and me on a prawn curry. Our conversation was wonderful, we were enjoying the Johannesburg sun and people-watching. But you’re a pariah if you’re seen smoking, so I snuck off around the corner and lit up. A big bloke came hurtling out of one of the shops, almost slamming into me.
Hello, he says, can I have a cigarette?
Me: Sure! Are you here for the football?
Bloke: Yes. Thanks, you have a beautiful country. Can you guess where I am from?
Me: Perhaps one of the Eastern Block countries, Yugoslavia?
Bloke: I will give you a clue: I am a why-king!
Me: Why-king? Oh,Viking! Norway!
Bloke: I am a Swede! Would you like to see my shopping?
Me: erm …
He opens his shopping bag and shows me two bottles of South African wine, a pair of sunglasses and two very gaudy neckties. He needs to be smartly dressed for his job, he says, he is a motor car salesman. He asks me to guess which brand of car.
I pluck at straws and say Volvo. He rolls his eyes, whistles and asks if I know another Swedish brand. I say Toblerone and he tells me that Switzerland is quite far from Sweden, he has a good old laugh and thumps me on the back.
Now he plucks a circular container from his pocket and opens it to reveal tiny parcels wrapped in a type of gauze. Guess! He says. (Our bloke likes this guessing game thing!)
Is it hashish? I ask.
Bloke: No, no hashish! It for NO smoking; you do like this. And he places one of the things inside his left cheek.
Me: Ah, like chewing tobacco?
No! No chew it! Take some, take some! He says.
I explain to him that, thank you; I just can’t be putting things from strangers into my mouth. We South Africans have had months of warning adverts about foreigners who will come to our land during the World Cup with the sole intention of drugging us and selling us into slave trade.
The Big Swede finds this madly amusing.
I tell him that I must return to my friend in the restaurant and invite him to join us for a glass of wine. He says, no, he must be on his way, but that he has enjoyed our chat and asks if he may hug me.
I’m dithering with a polite refusal when he scoops me up in a hug that all but drives all the air from my lungs, puts me back on the floor and, with a jaunty salute he’s gone. Poof! Just like that.
This football event is providing lots of people with fabulous interludes that have very little to do with the game.
Quite nice, really.