Monday, July 5, 2010

Crying for BaGhana with Mick, SIR Sol and Leo

The place was packed!

South Africa is in the grip of an unheard of exuberance right now. The mood is party-mode only and Twitter and Facebook keep closing down because of the tsunami of texting and tweets that fly back and forth over the ether. Everyone is at a match or a function or a street party or a fan fest or making new international friends. Even though there are now only two more big matches, how do you choose where you want to be or what you want to do or who you want to do it with? We just do not want this to end. Sepp Blatter for President, say I (not just president-for-a-month)!

The focus shifted to Cape Town over the weekend with a couple of huge parties (the Sol Kerzner party (we have to call him SIR Sol now, doesn't it have a cute ring to it?) and StringCaesar premiere, both at the One&Only) and the big quarter final matches between Argentina and Germany and Uruguay and Ghana. I am eternally grateful to Edith Venter-Schwartz and her husband Johnny Schwartz, who made sure that I had a plane ticket to go down via Kulula.

Accommodation was tight as the Mother City, which had not been at capacity throughout the tournament, suddenly filled up to the brim. PR Wendy Masters and her team who were handling the Sol Kerzner event at the One&Only went out of their way to try to fit me into the hotel, and the Table Bay also went the extra mile, phoning me at the last minute to say they had accommodation for me. I was so grateful to them both for their efforts. Fortunately I had found something in the pretty Gardens area so it was easy to have a fab cocktail beforehand with Louise and Sammy from Greater Than PR at the Mount Nelson, just to catch our breath. Red Nellies all round at the Planet Bar; if you haven't tried one of these you need to.

I brought friend and designer Francois Rall, who had been working extremely hard on his collection for Africa Fashion Week, to the party. He and Wendy were friends from way back when, and had spent the millennium in Hermanus with Sol's right hand man Ian Douglas. Francois, who is a very quietly connected person, told me he had been in a club in Paris in around 1983. It was one of those places where you had to purchase a bottle of pop at an astronomical sum, which ensured you a table. An English girl with multi-coloured hair hair came over and asked if she could share the table with Francois and his oil-tycoon heiress friend. Turned out she was with Mick Jagger's band and she brought the man himself over. Needless to say they all had a whale of a time.

Wendy had mentioned a possible "cameo appearance" by Mick as well as Leonardo di Caprio, who were staying at the hotel. Mick had watched the Ghana game with the US in Rustenberg and had come down to Cape Town for a week to stay. (Just to digress, my mother always makes me laugh when she describes how she was in London in 1969, switched on the television and there was Mick Jagger calming down his fans after fellow Rolling Stone Brian Jones had been found dead in a swimming pool. "Cool it, kids," he told them, and, she puts in about 50 exclamation marks at this point, "he was wearing a broderie anglaise shirt!!!!!")

No broderie anglasie on this occasion, as MJ's sartorial style seems to have calmed down. He arrived very quietly after dinner and the game in a dark T-shirt and jacket with his bodyguard and strolled off to the Nobu bar where local beauty Gina Athans in a long red dress joined them five minutes later. She was going clubbing with his party afterwards, she told me in the loo. It had "all been arranged". We were all too busy enjoying our delicious meal to take much notice, as the dishes kept arriving in quick succession and we were having a wonderful time. We were next to Brandon Kerzner's party, as Sol Kerzner had arrived earlier in the evening (did you know that his late brother Butch came up with the One&Only concept?). There was a bit of a kerfuffel when the PR photographers were chased away by the very woes bodyguard who flew at him like a mother bird defending her nest. So a photo opportunity with Sol and Mick Jagger was lost.

Upstairs the hotel was pumping with all the Beautiful Young Things of Cape Town and even businessman Patrice Motsepe made an appearance. The focus was on the game between Ghana and Uruguay (yes, they of the "hand of Uruguay goal") and the excitement, despair and adrenalin was epic. There were cheers and groans and wild cries from everyone watching. Leonardo di Caprio arrived in a schlumpy big white shirt and baseball cap and sat up at the upstairs bar.

Now came the interesting part. I could understand why the bodyguards are so unpleasant. Every single girl in the place, decked out in the tightest smallest skirts imaginable, made a beeline for the bar where Leo was sitting. Even a girl on crutches in a leopard-print dress hopped up one stair at a time to try her luck but got beaten back by her more predatory and able-bodied sisters. At first I could clearly see him from where I was sitting as he was silhouetted in the circular windows of the bar, but then he sort of disappeared under the weight of bodies. Fortunately when the game really got nail-biting he was more or less left alone.

I was kept amused by all the celebrity anctics which my fellow journos were tweeting to me from Port Elizabeth where Paris Hilton was busy being arrested. I recently indulged in a Blackberry so I can keep up with all the Jones, or the Hiltons in this case. I just wish we were still in the Space Race so we could have sent her up in a rocket into the atmosphere, the original space cadet. There is no oxygen up there for her to steal. I retaliated with all my news and so it went.

The place was starting to pulsate and the dance floor was pumping. Everyone was having a helluva time, even though the tears were flowing for Ghana, now dubbed "BaGhana BaGhana". I had talked Francois into changing his flight to a 5.45am one, just so he could join me at the party. Miraculously he didn't hate me. It was really tough to leave at midnight, as bedtime in South Africa is now around 3am every night.

But Francois and I saw each other again the next night in Joburg after his show. "My black dresses are unbelieveable,"" he told me, and they lived up to expectations. We all had a lovely dinner at Bukhara, after I had escaped from some Argentinean journalists. After you've said "Hola", and kissed each other, what more is there to say? Soccer transcends language barriers but not to that degree, and I had a sneaking suspicion they were Uruguay supporters. Uruguay is the new Robert Mugabe of soccer, they are cheats and horrid and we hate them.

I really really wanted to stay for the StringCaesar premiere but Joburg was calling me back. The focus shifts here with a vengeance this week, and the highway was closed for two hours yesterday in a trail run for the Big Day. They wouldn't do that unless Barack Obama himself was coming out for the final (he isn't apparently). It's going to be the party-of-all-parties and I for one am booking my acommodation in Soweto, as that is where it's going to be at!

PS: I heard later that Sol Kerzner abruptly left the Penthouse party the following Monday, as he did not think any of the people there were the right crowd who could afford his penthouse prices!

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