Columnists 13.12.2016 01:28 pm

At sixes and sevens over terraces togas

Jon Swift

Jon Swift

It is one of the facts of life that social discourse with Dave the Silent tends to take some unexpected turns which, when the subject is sport, often deviates wildly from the major point of the discussion.

This is especially true when the Ferocious Fireman drops a knowing wink at the rest of the usual gathering and proceeds to further muddy the waters. But the Silent One has a multi-faced – some might say Machiavellian – mind and on one memorable occasion paid the Fireman back in spades by having him and the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer swallowing hook line and proverbial sinker, as well a crafted piece of make believe involving a wooden compass crafted from a ironwood tree.

But the Fireman has a long memory and the assembly have been waiting for in anticipation of a looming payback. But the Silent One’s attention had been attracted by the carnival atmosphere which had pervaded the Mother City and turned the Cape Town Stadium’s stands into a eclectic mixture of South African replica jerseys and bizarre designer outfits.

“It is hardly what you would expect at Loftus,” the Silent One remarked, pointing out a section of the crowd dressed in weird cylindrical costumes with stubby false arms which waved in the fitful breeze. “Somehow, I don’t think that would be my choice. Too difficult to handle a pint of beer.”

His interest was then drawn to a group of shapely females dressed in a style of miniskirted nun-like attire including wimples. “Now that’s more like it,’’ he said. “Attractive young women. But the beer glasses they are waving are something of a giveaway.”

The Silent One continued his perusal of the terraces and he was not to be diverted from his surveillance by the Fireman’s loud sniggers or by the Arithmetically-challenged One’s more serious examination of the prospects on the Blitzboks retaining their Cape Town title and reliving the triumph of beating the Fijian Rio Olympic gold medallists in Dubai the previous week.

“This,” he said, “is a serious business which in case you didn’t know was originally begun in the small town of Melrose in the Scottish border country. But the real impetus emerged in the 1970s when the Hong Kong Sevens took off. “Because the halves are only seven minutes long and there are only seven players a side, it makes for some frenetic running rugby and one slip, one bad bounce of the ball can cost you the game.”

The Silent One, while casting an occasional glance at the action, was unmoved by the stern lecture from the self-appointed oracle of sporting matters. “That might well be so,” he said. “In fact I’m sure you are right. But look … there are nurses, over there people in togas, a crowd in Polynesia getups and some daring young men in swimming costumes. And if I’m not mistaken, a whole crowd in pirate costumes.”

With that turned to the Fireman, giving an expansive wink of his own. “I wonder,” he said, “whether they found their way here using a wooden compass”?

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