I’ve not been murdered yet, just had no internet for the past week so I’m gonna be a bit behind with these next 2 or 3 blogs…
After the Paraguay game we had 3 full days around Cape Town before the England Algeria game on the Friday. One of the days we decided to head up to the top of Table Mountain so we asked Bongani from the hostel to drive us up to the mountains base. As we’re waiting for him to finish a couple of things off in reception, a taxi pulls up outside and a couple get out, and drag their luggage up the steps.
They’re an English couple in their 50’s and they look happy to have reached their destination after a long tiring flight from the UK.
“Hello! We have a reservation!” the man chirpily announces.
“Are you sure?” Bongani replies. “We are fully booked, we are not expecting any new arrivals”
“Oh yes, yes, it’s fine, we booked it months ago. We’re staying here for a month. We already paid for everything in advance”
“Who did you book it with?” Bongani replies.
“Kevin. We booked it by email and I spoke to him on the phone”
“Kevin? There is nobody called Kevin here. There is only me, Bongani and Lucie who deal with reservations”
“No, there must be some mistake!” the bloke responds, with a worrying tone developing. “I spoke to him just last week when we transferred the money”
“Where did you transfer the money to? To our bank account in Cape Town”
“No, you see…we had to transfer it to a Kenyan bank account because that’s where Kevin was on business at the time. but he told us he would be back here today to greet us”
“I’m afraid there is no Kevin. It looks like you are the victim of a scam”
“No it can’t be, here is a print out of his email with his phone number”
“Maybe you should try to call him”
The bloke pulls his phone out of his pocket, fumbles with it trying to type the number in and then waits anxiously as he presses dial.
“Oh no. The line is dead”
And then, just when you think it can’t get any worse, the woman pipes up.
“Oh Derek, what about all our World Cup tickets! We paid him for those as well, he said they’d be waiting for us”
A few minutes later, the couple decide all they can do is go home. They call the airline, change their flights and then book a taxi to take them straight back to the airport.
Gutted just doesn’t come anywhere near it! You’ve saved, maybe for a couple of years to go on a trip of a lifetime and finally you arrive full of excitement. Then you find out you’ve been scammed (I don’t know how much but a months worth of accommodation and a bunch of World cup tickets definitely doesn’t come cheap!) and you’re on the next flight straight back home. Maybe they shouldn’t have fallen for a scam like that but you’ve gotta feel for them…
Our few days in Cape Town ended on the Friday. We headed down to the Waterfront in the afternoon to sink a few pints before the game. From a distance you could see the Waterfront completely taken over by the English and covered in flags. The first two we arrived at, bizarrely were “Orrell Stag” and “Wigan Blues”. The place was rocking and the atmosphere carried on building all afternoon. Our appetite for the game grew as the evening drew closer and when we entered the ground to see a full house, with 90% of people in there England fans, it felt like a home game at Wembley. The feeling from everyone around the ground was that this was gonna be a special evening. We were gonna hammer Algeria and get one foot into the round of 16.
You all know what happened next. Horrendous performance, even worse than some of the crap that was served up in the Euro 2008 qualifiers (and I thought they couldn’t sink any lower than the 0-0 draw with Macedonia at Old Trafford in 2006, how wrong I was). The worst part of it was seeing all the South Africans, kids and families…all come out to support England. Painted faces, replica shirts, and both South Africa and England flags. These tickets don’t come cheap to your average South African family and many of them had probably looking forward to this day for months, even years. Maybe their one and only chance to ever see their Premier League idols in the flesh. Most England fans can take it, they’re used to it. Latics fans even more so. But the look of disappointment on some of these kids faces after the game was saddening. And as for us it was a great day ruined by the football. No big deal to Latics fans, we’ve had years of experience.
We left the ground in search of a taxi and found one 20 minutes later down a side street. Bracing ourselves for one last rip off before we left Cape Town, I almost had an heart attack when he agreed to take us for the real rate of 50 rand. Then we set off. He might have been fair and honest but he was a fucking mentalist.
“Roads busy at this time because of football. I find different route”
And find a different route he did. It was very different in fact because it involved driving the wrong way down one way streets. We were then magically transported straight into the film Ronin as he sped down a tiny narrow one way cobbled alley with his accelerator down full..came out onto a dual carriageway, bombed straight across the central reservation, down the other side (the wrong way of course), dodged cars, swerved round buses for what seemed like 10 minutes but was probably 30 seconds. I don’t recall much of what happened next…I think my heart stopped, and my eyes were closed but all of a sudden deathly quiet and a voice in the background.
“Am I dead?” I said
“No, you’re free! Free of the traffic. We out of the traffic now, easy journey home, we’re free!”
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