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South Africans are going to be very popular in Scotland this week

October 14, 2007

There’s a T-shirt that’s very common in Scotland: it says: “I support two teams: Scotland, and anyone playing England”. Good news for South Africans.

When South Africa beat England 36 nil three weeks ago, Scotland was smiling. Complete strangers patted me on the back and bought me drinks. Springbok rugby jerseys sprouted like mushrooms, causing some embarrassing situations:

“Howzit, bru, you from Saffrica as well?”

“Eh? How’s that? Naw, ah’m fae Glesga. Whar ye fae? Sooth Africa! Ye’re awright, pal, showed they English c***! Gie the boy a swally, on ye go, son.”

London is full of South Africans, and they’re tribal. One of the things that always surprises me about going to London is hearing exactly how much Afrikaans is spoken there, usually by idiots on the tube who don’t realise that half the rest of the tube speaks Afrikaans too: “Ha, ha, tjek daai doos uit!” (English South Africans remember their high school Afrikaans very quickly in London).

Since one of the reasons I left South Africa was to get away from Springbok-jersey-wearing, Castle-drinking, Spur-eating macho pricks, it’s one of the things I like least about London.

(No offence if that describes you: I’m sure you’re a lovely human being. I just can’t handle you in packs).

The kind of unreconstructured Old South Africans you never see in Cape Town are all over London, creating little Potchefstrooms and Kimberelys all over the city.

I have heard of South Africans coming to the UK, staying in a South African area (Wimbeldon, or Leytonsdorp), working for South African companies, and going home after a few years having hardly ever interacted with a native Londoner.

What’s the point?

Glasgow, by contrast, is virtually Saffa free. If you meet some one in a Springbok jersey, it’s invariably a Scot relishing the immanent demise of the English rugby team.

Since I didn’t come overseas to meet my compatriots, that suits me fine. The South Africans you meet here (I’ve come across about 5 in 2 years) are generally well-integrated and detribalised.

So it’s going to be a good week: we beat Argentina tonight, and we’ll face England next week.

This week, everyone in Scotland will be South African.

I’m going to milk it for all its worth.

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