Thursday, June 24
The silly post-match drunken shananigans of wednesday night have left me with a mobile phone full of beer. Where once it read 'MTN mobile' there is now a wet dirty brown tide mark. My phone is Kaput.
There is chaos in the England supporters' ranks. Wherever you look they lie comatosed on the Port Elizabeth beach and on the grass of the BP petrol station. Others stumble around with the mother of all hangovers trying to work out what to do next. Many England that we meet are hastily trying to cancel accommodation that had been booked for Rustenburg - often many months ago. Others face the prospect of unwanted flight tickets to the north and comedy tickets for Ghana v USA. In the case of Robin and I, being disorganised with travel plans (i.e. making it up as we go along) and pessimistic about England's chances has turned cluelesness into a tournament-winning formula.
"I couldn't get rid of me spare England tickets. The Yanks wouldn't pay 50 quid each for them so I found some young local lads working outside a shop and asked them if they wanted to go with us."
"I s'pose they couldn't go 'cos they were working?"
"No, I asked their boss if they could 'ave the rest of the day off. He said yes, paid them their salaries. I were gobsmacked when they told me how much they earn - 12 Rand for a day. Anyways I gave them both the tickets for free and took them to the game. They bloody loved it. One of them was so happy he were nearly crying. I gave them 50 rand each after the game so they could have a beer or some'it."
Brilliant stuff from Blackburn.
The crowd roars as Italy crash out of the tournament to Slovakia.
With Bjorn up in Joburg and me following England around my input to the shirt project and contact with Bjorn have been minimal for the past few days. The big news from the past few days is that the shirt is now up at the Brightwater Shopping Mall in the suburbs of Johannesburg. You can catch images of it here:
The appearance of Bjorn and I on the BBC has also attracted a fair it of attention from both friends and strangers. When you mention the project to anybody out here now, chances are they have already heard about it from the ongoing press coverage. The 2-minute BBC video of the shirt in Cape Town can be watched here:
Make sure you watch it to the very end so you can see just how good the English are at penalties.
I decide to call it an early night in Port Elizabeth. Nick, Rich, Robin and our new friend - Fabio the Swiss Cheese - are all on the wine early doors in celebration of the English advance and the Italian exit. I can't face it and stroll home around 11pm.
Being sensible clearly isn't the way forward though as suddenly, a few hundred yards before I reach the B&B, a Toyota 4x4 pulls up next to me and some local lads start shouting and abusing me in Afrikaans. At least they don't shoot me, I suppose.
With all the ridiculous hype about crime and the general violence in South Africa it says something that my first incident of any kind is care of a bunch of local red necks.
Wednesday, June 16
After three days of fantastic hospitality Gary drives us to Durban's spanking new international airport, 30 kilometres out of the city.
Despite only booking the flight a day earlier we have managed to secure two one-way flights to Cape Town that don't break the bank. If you want a sense of how big South
Africa is then just consider the fact that it is a two-hour flight from Durban to Cape Town. Not long after reaching cruising altitude we cross the Drakensburg. The captain suggests we look out the window where, below us, parts of South Africa and Lesotho are covered in deep snow. Even many of the areas at lower altitudes are painted white.
Robin and I are also painted before reaching Cape Town as the Kulula stewardesses dawb English and South African flags on our faces shortly before landing.
Firearms can be deposited at Cape Town airport, according to one sign we spot.
There appear to be more staff on hand than there are tourists to ensure our safe passage to the city centre. Our 50 Rand bus soon passes a hard-edged looking township. It is quickly apparent that wealth and poverty live side by side in this city on a scale even more extreme perhaps than Joburg. It is also a city of extreme beauty: the magnificent Table mountain soaring 1,000 metres straight up from the sea below.
It couldn't be much easier or simpler to get into central Cape Town. Each arriving football fan seems to have five of his or her personal helpers to direct them to their intended destination.
Home for us is the Inn On The Square. It's an excellent three-star in cobbled Greenmarket Square with to-die-for views of Table Mountain. We seem to have left Africa and arrived in Europe.
In the evening Robin and I watch Bafana Bafana hit the wall against Uruguay at the Cool Britannia Arena. It's not pleasant seeing our hosts getting turned over 3-0 and knowing they are most likely out of the tournament.
Adjacent to the main hall is the beautiful sight of 'The Shirt'. Close on a hundred people of every creed and colour are crowded around taking photos and pointing excitedly at 600 shirts displayed in the main lobby of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
It makes me feel extremely proud.
The night finishes with us witnessing the world swearing record being beaten. Afrikaans band Die Antwoord are currently one of the most popular bands in the country. If you thought Hip Hop had sold out and become mainstream then you need to spend an hour in the company of this bunch. Afrikaans is a colourful language at the best of times, but
Die Antwoord are something else.