Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Whistle a tune and think of a catchy, happy little song..."

LOOK a little on the sunny side, advised the Kinks – even when you feel you’re on the slide.
Easier said done yesterday morning after the nightmare before, especially with the usually crystal-clear sky above South Africa surprisingly clogged by grey clouds – just waiting to envelop England’s plane.
The drizzly gloom made it more of an effort to find signs of cheer, though for those of us lucky to be sticking around there are of course plenty – from the richest enjoyment to the smallest of pleasures.
For a start, not everyone in the England squad comes out badly – Michael Dawson, at least, has played a blinder.
Just recalling his beaming, tongue-wagging excitement when bounding on to a Rustenburg-bound plane must toast even the chilliest heart – even if he did probably spend his surprise holiday parked with Rodney Trotter’s ‘Groovy Gang’ kids.
Then there’s the finishing of Spain’s happy slapper number seven, David proving the most audacious Villa outside a Donald Trump estate.
Or the finishing, for alternative entertainment, of Nigeria’s too-well-fed Yak.
That wise(ish) new greybeard Diego Maradona, on the touchline or at ticket-only press briefings, in both settings kicking as many balls as he can.
Or his lumbering full-back Gabriel Heinze getting nutted by a camera, then giving it a bit of a slap in return.
The legions of stadium volunteers who refuse to simply point to an allotted seat but insist on clambering all the way with you – only to invariably need extra sherpas sent out for themselves.
Or else the Cameroon fan who made his vuvuzela sound like the chilling saxophone stabs from Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Taxi Driver’ score.
The under-rated ‘keeping of Wigan’s number three Richard Kingson, and the clever tenacity of Kofi’s alleged nephew Anthony Annan – despite looking about as well-built for a holding role as Lionel Messi or Shaun Wright-Phllips.
And the whole Ghana team’s Roy Of The Rovers exploits, from the winner against America to their Melchester Rovers borrowed colours.
Or Jogi Löw’s strangely lovable German whizzkids, or Dunga’s silky yet street-tough Brazilians, or the Uruguay of Sally Gunnell double Diego Forlan – a revelation as poacher-turned-playmaker, even if we’ve probably heard enough now of how he flopped at Old Trafford.
The prospect of Messi taking on his Barca mates, and the laughable fact he somehow still hasn’t scored – and the feeling that after a first, he might just hit five in the final.
And the assurance that an exciting climax can’t now be bogged down by that most tainted ‘golden generation’, stinking out 2010 as they did 2006.
A fair few breaks in the clouds, then, at least.
Even if, for England, it might feel like – to flick to another Kinks track – there was no hope, no reasoning, this rainy day in June.

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