Tuesday 15th June (published Monday 21st June)
So we arrived in a damp and breezy Cape Town and met up with the boys, Steve (Eva Major), Alan (Eva Minor), Dave (Sweeney Todd) and (Swiss) Jimmy in the Ferryman’s bar on the wonderful Waterfront. Significant absentees from previous years were Shaun, John, Colin, Mark, Simon J , Shane, Rollerblade Ronnie, Robert and Uncle Nelson. If the tournament progresses from an England perspective, we will no doubt see a few late comers. Indeed word was out that Jack (Eva Minimus) was going to get out for the Slovenia game. Dave told me that Nelson did not come because his mum had asked him to stay in England ‘as it is very dangerous in South Africa and she would worry herself sick if he made the trip’. Nelson’s mum is in her 90’s so you can understand why he never made the trip. Maybe next time, in Rio when Nelson gets his Freedom Pass, he will be allowed to travel. Needless to say everyone misses him, especially when he refers to everyone as ‘mush’, although most of don’t miss the smoking. You really do notice the smoking out here, it is everywhere, indoors and out. Amazing, given that it was only outlawed in pubs a few years back, that it really does stink.
It was good to see the boys finally for a proper beer and something to eat. Banter button was firmly switched to ‘ON’ although it was difficult to keep up with the pace from the first minute, which ironically was somewhat in keeping with our footballers.
Steve announced that he had bought a new camera, two infact as he had already dropped one. When I asked him how much that had set him back it was only ‘two and an half’. Cheap ;-)) the boys had been sleeping 3 to a room, with Swiss Jimmy rooming alone. Clearly one of the trio had taken to snoring and so the other two had had less sleep than would be advisable on a trip such as this. The strain was showing on Alan and Dave’s faces, which pointed the finger at Steve, despite several denials. Indeed nothing is ever easy with these boys, as their luggage had gone missing between Johannesburg and Cape Town and they had gone a day without clean kecks, never pleasant. Their kit eventually showed up, and all was temporarily back to ‘normal’ although tempers as well as gussets were frayed.
The boys had met Viv Anderson and Paul Elliot the previous night. Viv was apparently in top form, but Paul Elliot took a dislike to Steve. Dave had asked which player ended Paul Elliot’s career, and prompted the conversation by adding it was ‘that long haired geezer from Liverpool’, (Dean Saunders) to which Steve chipped in with ‘who, Jimmy Osmond?’ I think the conversation went downhill from there on in.
The boys showed us their boxes of ‘Zee Trix’ which they had bought earlier – basically a card trick box with wires. Promises were made to entertain us all ala David Nixon in the days to come, so far however, we have had more Richard Nixon than David. Entry into the Magic Circle is being considered for next season, but practice will be needed.
We decided to eat and selected a wonderful restaurant, Belthazar which served brilliant food. Steve ordered ‘ostrich with a jacket’ and so it all the japery began again. Conversation ebbed from the wistful love of ‘On The Buses’, ‘turnips (which were actually sweet potatoes) tasting like cooked bananas’, ‘five hours to get back from f**king Rustenberg’, ‘we ain’t ‘ad time to text let alone call the Mrs’ and ‘we’ve ‘ad it rough’.
We left on a high, with discussions of what to do tomorrow ranging from shark diving in a cage (not Steve’s idea of fun), to a trip to Table Mountain. An earlier night than normal showed we were four years older, mind you, with Steve and Dave unable to read texts or a menu at normal length without their bins, I think we all know we are a little older, but none the wiser. Happy days!