Friday, December 4, 2009

The Final Draw - Cairp Tahn goes soccer crazy

Long Street, in Cairp Tahn is normally a fairly quaint, very ordinary kind of street. It has lots of restaurants in it - some of which are rather questionable. But at night, Long Street is "The" place to be for the younger set. Awash, I suppose, with the normal kind of recreational drugs - I don't know this, I assume it. Parking is quite impossible to find and the blare of music of various genres assaults you at every turn.

The crowd is not really trendy - it is somewhat more downmarket. There is a lot of smoking of cigarrettes and a lot of wearing sunglasses at night. It seems quite a happy place, but one would be slightly concerned about one's teenage son or daughter.

When Long street is not pumping with the close to 17 000 people it gets on a Saturday night, it is just like anywhere else in Cairp Tahn. Enjoyable. Unreconstructed. Fairly laid back.

Long Street today, however, is the site of the Final Draw (for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - in case you live on a different planet) party. 75 000 people are expected. Screens have been erected, to ensure that people can watch which teams are drawn against which teams. The cordon of security around the International Convention Centre - which is where the draw will actually take place, is vice-like. I virtually had to give a DNA sample to get accreditation for this evenings event. Not that I will be going to the actual event, you understand - that is reserved for Kings, Presidents, Joseph Sepp Blatter, visitors from Mars. (Queens don't qualify).

So, "the people" will be revelling, blowing Vuvuzelas, singing, dancing and wearing soccer jerseys, until the early hours of the morning, in Long Street. I heard on various radio stations that everyone is duly excited. Even the stations which mostly white people listen to. This is unusual. Because white people in South Africa, mostly, do not have any clue about soccer. And white people in South Africa, mostly, can only see doom and gloom. To see white Capetonians wandering around in soccer jerseys, I want to tell you, is a fairly amazing sight.

So, this really is a moment for national unity. This really is a time to shine. And we will. Of that I have no doubt. I have no doubt at all.

One small point though - the three random young women in the photograph asked me, as soon as I had taken it - whether I had accommodation for 2010. Perhaps the sudden soccer enthusiasm may have been tinged with just a touch of lip-smacking at the wonderful prospect of easy money next year. Maybe. Just maybe.

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