Sunday, July 09, 2006
"But still the memory stays for always, my heart says danke schoen..."
Bad news from Berlin: thunderous monsoon-like downpours meant an open-air concert by musicians from 2010 hosts South Africa had to be cancelled.
Even worse – a James Blunt gig in the same city’s adidas "World Of Football" still went ahead.
But even his wailing went largely ignored as jubilant Germans seemed inclined to insist: third place is the new first.
From the Brandenburg Gate to the suburbs on the outskirts, from Saturday night’s final whistle to last night’s kick-off, this was a German party.
The stray clusters of Italian shirts or French tricoloures stood out shyly as tolerable impertinences.
Meanwhile the smoke smothering Berlin’s trendy Kurfurstendamm shopping drag wafted from makeshift fireworks.
But it seemed to have been sent all the way from Stuttgart and the ‘little-final’ third-place play-off.
Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad would follow, to lap up the rapture of 500,000 fans crowding the tumultuous "Fan Mile" this morning.
But not before Chancellor Angela Merkel, a pudgy Anne Robinson lookalike, had led that lop-sided awards ceremony in Stuttgart, a World Cup Weakest Link.
Germany - you win a set of shimmering bronze medals, a fireworks-and-lasers light fantastic, and the adulation of a nation.
Portugal – you leave with nothing. Goodbye.
Just one long month ago, the sight of swarming German flags and sound of soaring German anthems kicked off as many anguished national debates as they did backyard five-a-sides.
Yet this weekend there was no embarrassment at all as the Klinsi-inspired masses gridlocked the streets in celebration.
The odd alienated non-football fan would here and there give themselves away, by attempting a panic-stricken 27-point turn in search of a rare empty alleyway.
Strange, this European instinct to mark a footballing triumph, not by hitting the bars to get tanked up, but heading to their cars and tooting horns until tanked out.
Paris and Rome must both be on red, amber and green alert tonight, as both sets of blues duke it out here in Berlin (though France will be in white again tonight, as they have been for much of the tournament - even against port-red-clad Portugal. Surely the black-and-white-TV-viewing public isn't large and influential enough to have insisted "Allez les bleus" be replaced by "Allez les blancs"...?)
Ah, but anyway - the Germans have got in there first with the revelries.
Newspaper headlines and adverts are today proclaiming the German side Diana-sickly-style "Weltmeister unserer Herzen" – "World champions of our hearts".
As JFK might have said: "Wir sind alle Berliner" – and I don’t mean small, sticky doughnuts.