Engerland Engerland Engerland

So I made it to The Londoner yesterday, managed to drink six beers until 11 PM and still wake up fresh this morning, no small feat in my age.

The game was very promising, the replay of the old situation. The US got in in the last minute and the English were left to face the Germans.

Without Russians to do the heavy lifting, however, it all ended up badly. The US were sent packing by pesky Ghanians. Payback for the slavery, I guess, and the English were severely beaten by Germans, in style, I might add.

Londoner was fully packed, as expected, but not very cheerful, reminded me of the Engerland chant from “How to lose friends..” movie:


Of course there was this disallowed goal:

Lampard's disallowed goal

The ball bounced out and into the bar, though, I can understand why the ref thought it didn’t cross the line.

Personally I’m against introducing any technology to help referees with decisions like this. I like football as a human game with human mistakes, but, as the game has progressed, there’s a lot of money at stake and I won’t be surprised if they eventually start suing referees for the lost income.

Perhaps tennis approach is better, where each Grand Slam tournament has its own rules on how many challenges, if any, a player can make.

Anyway, Germans added two more and that was the end of it.

Before leaving, the English squad visited a South African orphanage: “Nice to give ’em smiles, faith & bit of hope,” said Stephen, aged 6.

Courtesy of Tuslathit

Korn was there, at the same table, as far as I can tell. He was nice and friendly and posed for a few photographs. I wasn’t in the mood of stalking him and I’m NOT taking a picture next to him, he is too tall – the reason I called British Ambassador a shorty earlier.

Only when Korn was finally leaving I thought I should take a shot just for the memory. He was out of flash range, nothing to see, really.

He was literally head and shoulders above the crowd, and no mean looking guards either, he walked in with a friend, I think, not a bodyguard.

Altogether the English let me down – I put so much effort and preparation in making this late drinking session work and they just blew it.


Missing Korn

Korn, the Finance Minister, watched England game at the Londoner yesterday – MY pub, though now that I live in the suburbs I rarely go there.

Korn at the Londoner

That pic’s gone missing. Here’s another one, from Londoner’s FB:

Korn at The Londoner

I was really planning to go yesterday, too, and I was very determined but after test run on Saturday (Holland – Japan) I decided I’m too old for the minimum of six pints of beer and getting up for work next day.

On big days like this they sell only coupons – six beers or two margaritas or some other sets like that. You have to be there before 7PM, hang around until 9 and leave at 11, get to bed after midnight.

Knowing me, I’d have finished the first six before the game even started and the next morning wouldn’t even have the energy to call in sick.

So I missed Korn.

Glad we choose the same places to watch football.

I don’t know how Korn feels about watching illegal Astro broadcast, though. They’ve got English commentary but no HD so it doesn’t look as good as at home.

Note to myself – send an e-mail to the Nation with suggestion for True to hire its own commentators next time. In the off season there should plenty of capable people in England who could come to Thailand to watch the Euro or World Cup and get paid for it.

That’s what Astro does, I think.

True’s excuse is that FIFA doesn’t sell English commentary in this region for fear of privacy, as is aptly demonstrated by Londoner. They probably pay for their Astro card but it can’t be legally sold here.

Abhisit is reportedly rooting for Argentina, Korn, on the other hand, had his quote of the month: “I’ve always been a fan of England and long suffered for it”.

I knew the English would pull through this time, they bounce back from their disastrous spells very fast, a lot faster than French, it’s all in the mind anyway.

Now the next game is Germany – England on Sunday night.

Tempting, very tempting.

Essential info – Londoner is on the corner of Sukhumwit Soi 33, BTS Promphong, they brew their own beer (German brewmaster, Peter, a nice, very likable fellow) and sell all kinds of local and imported stuff, too. Food never gets rave reviews, as a vegetarian I can’t say anything about it except they offer every traditional fare as there’s a lot of competition for farang patrons – there’s Bull’s Head around the corner, Robin Hood, and an Irish pub across the street. No bar girls of any kind.

House beer is of two kinds – Pilzner, which is brewed by German rather than Czech recipe, and Bitter, which is a dark beer, English, rather than German “dunkel” style that is usually brewed or imported here.

Both are very tasty, Pilzner is stronger and Bitter gives bigger headache.

Perhaps something harmless like Heineken is a better choice for late night drinking but that would be a sacrilege.

World Cup Inc

This is my own little angle on serious business of running a World Cup and it’s mostly about the battle of songs.

First, there’s the official World Cup song, Waka Waka (This time for Africa) by Shakira.

Pretty catchy tune, fair homage to famous football stars and their WC memorable moments and some sexy moves by an extremely attractive woman.

Yet from the moment it has been selected it was subjected to criticism that it should be performed by an African artist. I don’t really buy this – it’s a good argument but it’s still a WORLD Cup, Shakira is a truly international star, Colombian herself, she performed at a wide variety of international shows for good causes and I see it as a big plus that she decided to incorporate an African song into her number, and she is accompanied by an African group.

It’s like Italians protesting about the way Thais eat their spaghetti – too late, it’s gone “inter”, that’s what always happens, African music no exception.

This video of the same song has some different moves and Shakira here is absolutely mouth watering.

What I personally have a bit of a problem here is the content – “Good soldier, if you get down get up and fight, today is your day” and so on and it’s mixed with some African lines – “Tsaminamina, waka waka…” On the Internet these lines are usually translated as something like “Come and do you job, you come here on your own choice” which fits with the English theme.

The idea is that it’s a tribute to African WWII soldiers.

The lines, however, came from this old African song here by a band from Cameroon called “Golden Sounds” who were clearly taking a big piss at the army.

Dressed as generals, they wear fake bellies and fake butts to symbolize good eating and traveling by trains which, I guess, was pretty comfortable by African standards in those days and certainly beats walking.

Waka Waka, some say, is a pidgin for “walk and work”.

The real soldiers in the background don’t do any fighting either, just march up and down, showing off moves.

The song is very long and the actual “waka waka” tune is at about five min mark. If you are too lazy to wait, some kind soul split the video in two and so you can jump straight to it here:

A warning – the tune can be quite catchy, I myself have been shuffling around the house for nearly a week now:

Zaminamina, eh eh
Waka waka eh eh
Zaminamina Zangalewa

Shakira and her co-authors, of which there were many, including some Indians, decided to turn this goofing around into some sort of inspiration. Good on them.

Then there’s the official sponsor official World Cup song. I mean Coke. They needed a song to go with all their advertising and they wanted it to convey messages of hope, freedom and celebration and have something African in it, too. So they picked up “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan, a black Canadian singer of Somalian extraction. The original was earlier used as a charity song for the victims of Haiti earthquake but nevermind, Coke had him redo some lyrics – gone were people “struggling, fighting to eat” and “violent prone, poor people zone” and a lot more of flag waving was introduced for the proper mood.

There are plenty of videos with the real football but I like this version, with kids, better.

Originally after “I will get older, I will be stronger, They’ll call me freedom” there was “and then it goes back, and then it goes back” repetition that sounds more like desperation to me.

Not a big deal, again, K’naan himself is happy, and Coca Cola is even happier. They went totally global with it, in what, I suppose, could be called glocalization – they’ve created at least a dozen versions with local – Spanish, French, even Egyptian singers pitching in.

Here is the Arab answer to Shakira:

And here is the Spanish version:

Here is French:

There’s also a Thai version which is refreshingly different – it’s faster and funkier and Thai guys, Tatoo Colour, are pretty cool without that in your face Spanish or French machismo. What’s so macho about a singer called “Fefe”, though?

I’m watching WC on True’s high definition channel, it is awesome and I don’t get talking heads at the half time, just the advertising and the original feed from the stadium – replays and statistics and that’s when I often hear Waka waka eh eh. Thais watching the game on free TV probably think that Coca Cola’s “Ohohohoh” is the official song instead as it appears in Coke advert.

Speaking of French – they look like they screwed up their campaign again, like they did in 2002, and when I heard their “Now we’ll play for honor” promise I was very apprehensive. A whole line of post Iraq war French jokes was coming in. Maybe they’ll surrender to the dudes from Waka Waka video.

Anyway, my point was that World Cup Inc world domination is still a white man’s agenda cleverly disguised as inspirational and international and appealing to the third world. While we see the bright side on TV, millions of South Africans still live in poverty and even the game stewards are having a strike right now, over their wages. Fifa is making billions in turn and Coke is getting everybody to sing and dance.

I wonder what would be said here if there was such a glaring discrepancy between the image and the reality, if Thailand ever managed to stage such a world class event. Reds burned the city for a lot less.

On the domestic front nothing much happens. Kanit is still assembling his panel, he says it will be “fact finding” only, ie he won’t blame anybody for whatever happened. There’s a point in this – indictments and prosecution must be dished out by relevant agencies, not by ad hoc panels. Reds are not taking it however.

Abhisit set up two other panels. Both pointless, imo.

First is Anand/Prawase reform panel – they already gave us 97 constitution that appealed to the middle classes but had no effect on either the poor Isanese or power hungry politicians. I don’t expect anything new from them, or anything that would satisfy the reds.

Last panel is on constitution reform, it’s staffed with many PAD sympathizers or people who worked in junta appointed NLA and they started with talk about six proposed changes. Non-starter – everybody already knows there’s nothing to benefit the people in those, and if there is even a whiff of New Politics in their work they’d be slaughtered by reds who are already up in arms over the composition of this panel.

Arghh, better go back to football.