tour diary: Week 3

Irate strippers, a desperate Lions fan, and Butch James’s homecoming. It’s been an eventful week in Durban people.

Let me begin this installment of the tour diary by saying that Durban rocks. After spending a week in that God-forsaken Jozi with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (read: Cardinelli and Ball) it was a relief to finally get away and kick it by myself in a city that‘s a lot more like Cape Town.

Cardinelli has arrived here now, so my life will be a misery again as I’ll have to endure his constant nagging about my grooming time, and his indifferent attitude towards basic hygiene. Anyway.

Despite Cardinelli, the vibe will only get better this week when the rest of the Lions contingent roll into town after watching their side take on the Southern Kings in the Republic of Cheeky.

There are a fair few Lions disciples here already, and they’ve certainly been making their presence felt in the city‘s pubs and clubs. They’re easily identifiable, because it seems they have arrived here with the sole objective of establishing how many days in succession one can wear a Lions replica shirt before it starts to melt into your flesh.

I spotted a couple of blokes at a local nightclub with the shirts on, and, to my disgust, saw them having breakfast the next morning wearing the same smoky, dop-stained shirts they’d jolled in the night before. Cardinelli would have approved.

The dress code at some of Durban’s trendier joints has been relaxed to accommodate the tourists’ preferred kit. I guess allowing non-collared shirt wearing patrons in is a small price to pay when you know that they’re going to spend a small fortune at the bar.

But it seems not all the Lions lads are loaded.

Imagine my surprise when I was having a quiet drink at Billy the Bums only to be distracted by a flash of red, then to hear the furious clapping of high heels and a heavily accented screech, ‘Storp! Geeve munee!’.

You see, Billy’s is situated next to one of the city’s more popular strip joints, and I surmised that this particular fella must have been so taken by the semi-clad eastern European leeches on show, that he overcooked the card.

Realising that the 3.5m, 270kg Nigerian at the door was about to dish out a brutal lesson, he made a run for it. And run he did. Fast. Credit has to go to Olga, who was pretty brisk on those clear heels, but sadly for her and the man mountain, who seemed to concede defeat early in the pursuit, they weren’t ever going to catch a man whose every stride was fueled by the knowledge that he was about to take the beating of his life, and also one whose every step took him closer to telling his mates about the time he got R6000 worth of lap dances, gratis.

Hey, another thing that obviously didn’t come cheap was the spectacular Moses Mabhida stadium, being built for the 2010 World Cup.

It looks like it’s something off the set of Transformers, and may very well have the latent potential to fold up and start walking towards King’s Park, situated across the road, and blow the hell outta the cement monstrosity. City officials have pleaded with the Sharks to move in after the World Cup, and have been duly given the finger. Sentiment aside, I can’t for the life of me think why they wouldn’t want to, but that’s a debate for them to have.

The only reason I hope they don’t move is because I know the Sharks’ merchandise shop at the Moses Mabhida stadium will knob you harder than the one at King’s Park.

Now before you lot throw your hands up in disgust and declare ‘We always knew he was a Sharks fan’, let me explain.

I’m from the Jake White school of thought on socks – I hate wearing them and own just six black ones. (Note: I didn’t say three pairs). But the need for socks became apparent when I was forced to park in Jo’burg and walk to the stadium on Wednesday for the Sharks/Lions match. Upon reaching my destination my feet were sticking to the inside of my shoes as tightly as that psycho bird you dated on your mom’s request in varsity stuck to you.

I needed socks, and the only place to get some was in the Sharks’ shop. Fifty-five rand later I was wondering how I was going to justify that claim on the expensive account. The reality is I’m not. Those socks, complete with a Sharks logo, are one of my worst purchases ever – a close second to that time I spent a couple of grand on some female midget wrestlers and twelve litres of sweet corn. That’s not a story for a family blog though.

Speaking of King’s Park, one of its favourite sons, Butch James, is back in town. I caught up with the Bath flyhalf at a pub in Durban North, and he said the knee injury that ruled him out of the Lions tour was healing well. Thankfully he’s gotten rid of the thick blond mop of hair he was sporting for most of the year, and the boy is looking strong and lean. The Springboks will miss him.

A mate of mine from the Durban media made it his mission to ensure I had a total experience of the city’s nightlife.

In 2007 I’d been to the famous 80’s club with the human female repellent, Cardinelli and Borchardt. It was fun, with lots of hot ladies. White ladies. Blonde hair, green eyes, you know, the kind Hitler would have approved of.

Being’s only non-racist writer, I needed to see what was cracking with the Indians and coloureds. So I headed to Casa Nostra on the hip Florida Road strip.

For the benefit of the white okes, it’s like Tiger Tiger, only with no white folk. It was so hot in the place that I thought they might have had a furnace-powered curry stand in there. So we ducked and headed to Zoom on Stamford Hill.

For my brown brothers from Cape Town, it’s like the Galaxy, only with uglier girls and cheaper booze. I was comfortable that taking advantage the latter would improve the problem noted in the former, and opted to stay. The music was superb. If you like your music to sound like the band’s front man is possessed, you’ll hate this joint.

The evening ended with a trip to this late night take-away, where men who weren’t shown love in their childhood were wheel-spinning in their GTIs.

I declined the famous bunny-chow in favour of a plain cheese burger. There was nothing plain about that burger, because I type this while perched on the throne. I’ve been here for two days.

By Ryan Vrede, in Durban.