March 10th, 2002

emu

Just an old story

MONTE CARLO

Standing in the middle of the square, she grabs my attention, wildly gesticulating at her husband. "More to the right, to the right" she seems to be saying. He is a bit reluctant. Sees through the camera and concludes that his position is all right. "From here it'll do."
"No, it won't. Go to the right." She tells him off. Finally he decides to step aside a bit.
"Your left, my right." She is shouting now. Moving her arms like a policeman in rush hour, she directs him to the position she wants him to take. Finally she's satisfied. Looks over her shoulder once more to see the palace and decides he can snap now. And so he does.

It's his turn now. He has to stand in front of the palace as well. She has to take this picture. 20 minutes until the changing of the guards, it is getting busy. It looks like she can't find the right button. He gives her a hint, but she still doesn't manage. As soon as he wants to walk to her, she tells him not to move. Like a statue he freezes at his spot, until she finally decides to let him help her. It was definitely not her fault. It must have been the way he left the camera. He returns and she tries again, but still doesn't manage. He helps her again and for the third time returns to his position. The tourists see them and wait before the virtual line between him and the camera. The group after them hasn't got a clue though.

She must have taken the picture just in time though, as she asks a stranger to take a third picture: them two together this time. 3 pictures to show the family what a lovely day they had in Monaco. They have driven quite a while in their car (I can just see them in their second hand Renault) to get here and these pictures are their proof that they have been here. The friendly gentleman with their camera gets told off as well though. He has to go back further. His protest doesn't help either and back he goes. She shouts at some tourists who have come too close, with immediate effect: they jump aside. Finally the photo session is over.

10 more minutes and the guards will change. The front rows are full so they have to go further away where they can see the guards coming out of the house opposite of the palace. Obviously the spot he picks is wrong. He tries a discussion, but he should have known better. In 37 years of marriage he never won one before, why would he now?

He became suspicious at their wedding day. The preacher asked her and she said, "I do". The preacher asked him and she said, "He does to". Definitely a sign of things to come.

She's a bad waiter and wants to look at some souvenirs. So they go and look at some souvenirs. But they are far too expensive and back to the square they go. It is very busy now, so it's second row for them.

3 minutes to go and suddenly they go again. This time to a restaurant, where they sit down outside. While everybody else is waiting patiently on the changing of the guards, they have gone. Perhaps the coffee is cheaper before noon, but more probably one of them needs a toilet.

The music has started now and new guards are marching on. The ceremony must be at least halfway as they come back towards the square. They are in a hurry, their way of moving can be best described as something in-between walking fast and running. Soon enough though she realises that she hasn't got a chance to see anything from the last row. But the solution is there. On a dustbin somebody found himself a comfortable spot to oversee everything. First she tries to convince him to give up his position, then she wants to share the bin, but finally she glances sidewards and there it is: Her own Dustbin!

Her husband is following quietly and lets her get on with it. Then again, if you're over 60 it is not easy to climb a bin. He has to help her. He accepts her bag and her coat, but she still doesn't manage. He has to give her a hand now and patiently does so. But they hadn't taken the police into account. And what they didn't know, is that there is a law in Monaco that strictly prohibits anyone to climb on a bin. The policeman did know. A sharp whistle and some gestures and she realises she has lost.

She tries to elbow her way into the crowd now. By the time she has arrived in the second row (good enough to take one more picture) the ceremony is over. But there is still the opportunity to go on the guided tour through the palace as well. They queue up, but as soon as they get closer to the entrance, they are able to read the entrance fees as well. He says that he hasn't driven all the way here and then not visit the palace. She thinks 30ff p/p is far too much to see some old pictures and rooms. They will buy the postcard instead. So they have to make their way out of the queue again and start the cheapest sightseeing tour of Monaco: Free, by foot.

At lunchtime they sit down in a park. He is eating the sandwiches she made this morning ("Much nicer than the overpriced food they will serve you there") and she is considering spending 3 more francs for the public toilet across the street, as her bladder is full again. She decides not to. Behind the bench they sit on is some grass and, thinking nobody can see her, she decides to leave her urine there.

After a quick visit to the old town they drive home again, moaning how much parking costs in Monaco. Next Sunday when the children will visit them she'll tell what a lovely day had. He will agree. He has to.
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emu

Hard Gras 26 - Ajax in Afrika (02-004)

6 stories this time, some good, some interesting. The title story about Ajax Capetown is nearly an article for a newspaper, only that it hasn't got a news value, it is more of an impression. Why does Ajax want a team in a poor city, with a badly organised competition? In the end both ends can profit from the deal. Today that fact was proven right, when Pienaar, a young South African scored in only his second game of the big Ajax.

The story about the heydays of Colombian football was better, not many fans do know this, but in the early fifties, the best footballers in the world all played in the country that is nowadays mainly famous for violence and cocaine. Simon Kuper writes an interesting piece on Salman Rushdie, who apparently claims to be a Tottenham fan in several interviews. Background information therefore. Hugo Borst has an interesting story about decay of Spangen, Moroccan youth criminals, discrimination and Sparta, the only team outside the big 3 in the Netherlands that never got relegated, though these days they have come close several times.

The real highlight is not about football, but was written by a football player. Steve Mokone, a black South African who played in the Netherlands in the fifties (a movie was made recently about him), later became an American citizen, though he got treated very badly while in the US. He got convicted for a crime he didn't do and spent nine years in jail. This story is a chapter from his forthcoming autobiography: Kalamazoo! The life and times of a soccer player. Judging by this story, I might need to have a look around for that book.
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