Saturday, April 20, 2024

B.C’s B’DOS – World Cup White-and-blues


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OF COURSE I put on my blue-and-white Argentina shirt for the game against Germany on Saturday (who ought to be confirmed as world champions next Sunday); it seemed like a good idea at the time, with Argentina ahead on goals scored – not counting Saturday’s four.     As I was walking briskly towards the rumshop, two or three minutes late, a man wearing a Brasil shirt going the other way laughed.    “You all are one-down already!” he said.    “Well,” I replied, “you all are out!” Feeling like I’d tapped in the rebound, I almost skipped into the bar. Here is a word of advice free to you but paid for dearly by me: before you enter a rum shop to watch a World Cup game, peep inside and see if anyone else is wearing your team’s shirt. I walked through the doors jauntily and raised an instant, prolonged chorus of boos. Most of the crowd was vociferously pro-Germany and the remainder virulently anti-Argentina. “I bet I give you the right Hand of God in your face,” shouted one man; I labelled him an England fan, still disgruntled by Diego Maradona’s notorious cheat of many years ago and the German cut-ass of the week before. Then, grinning, they made space for me, right in their middle. English commentators have remarked about opposing fans sitting side by side, something the English Premiership goes to great trouble to avoid, because such proximity, in English football, can lead to harm. In the West Indies, it leads only to heckle: the pro-Deutschlanders and anti-Argentines wanted me close so they could tease me easier. And, with Germany one-up in the third minute, they had me on the back foot for the next 87 minutes.No, that is a misrepresentation. They had me on the back foot for the next 65 minutes, until Miroslav Klose scored Germany’s second goal in the second half; thereafter, they had me under their thumb.Argentina could not even get a consolation goal. Lionel Messi went through the whole tournament without a goal and I went through an entire rum shop without an ally. When Arne Friedrich put the third goal/coffin nail in, poor Maradona on the sidelines put a hand to his eye and, at once, the man behind me shouted: “Don’t cry for me, Argentina!”To rub salt in the wounds, Klose scored again in the last seconds of the game. People were offering me T-shirt loans. One man said I should go bareback and pretend I was heading for the beach. Another told me that, if I folded the shirt the right way and tied it around my head, it might look like a white German headband. It took what I thought of as time added on for injury to get out of the rumshop. As I was leaving, the man with the Brasil shirt was returning. “Aha!” he said, “you on your way out, but your team out for sure.” “Yes,” I replied, “but don’t worry: you bound to qualify for the next one because you’re hosting.” He grinned, bounced my fist. “Not to worry,” he said. “We will invite you.” B.C. Pires is bin ein Berliner.


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