Two of the guys arrived at our house at 2am. It was quickly evident that all the luggage would not fit into the Passat.
A hasty made internet booking resulted in a convoy down the M40 to Heathrow before a 6am meet up. Although it was the World Cup, the plane was ‘unusually’ full.
I Gotta Feeling
Considering I had not had any sleep since 7am the previous morning, if we could over come this major issue with such calm in about 90 seconds then I had a feeling that we could face anything.
Upon getting on the 747 I saw a few guys wearing black shorts, t-shirt and scruffy shoes but carrying very expensive computers and the best headphones that money could buy. I knew who these guys were – RODIES!
But who for?!
Rock That Body
After some ear wigging and some visual clues given away by branded swag, my conclusion was that we were surrounded by about 40 dancers, production workers and stage managers for the Black Eyed Peas who were performing in South Africa as part of the World Cup celebrations.
I shut my eyes.
Next thing I knew we were flying over Algeria. After a brief chat with some friends I was asleep again and woke with 2 hours before we touched down.
Boom Boom Pow
A brief meet up with some Mexican photographers that I know was proceeded by getting around voucher problems upon collecting our hire cars. One of the dates had been printed wrongly. It was approaching 1am and of course normal office hours were out of hours.
In England certainly and most probably most other countries I know we would have been refused our cars but the South African people worked wonders and we were on our way up toward Kempton and our home of Randburg at 0130h.
Our host Louise met us with a smile and showed me my old home of December to my 5 colleagues staying with us.
A 3 hour sleep was met with alarms and before we knew it we just scraped past the horrendous rush hour traffic of Johannesburg. Leaving our new home it was cold and dark. At the airport we were greeted with an amazing dawn and an instant 10c rise in temperature. The car air con was transformed into a device for blowing out freezing cold air where as 20 minutes ago it was used to warm us all up.
First to meet was Ito from Japan via Singapore, then my two German colleagues that I collaborate with followed by 2 more English guys.
I spotted Carlos Valderrama a World Cup legend – mainly due to his hair – arriving in South Africa and promptly lept into action aka Paparazzi.
We then drove to Soccer City. A place I have been frequenting for over a year.
The place was buzzing.
It seemed finished but our initial requirements was to get our tournament accreditation.
England were facing the Platinum Allstars, a team from the South African Premier League whom I had photographed playing the Kaizer Chiefs the last time I was here, but we needed our accreditation first and we estimated that the stadium was over three hours away.
The process to get accreditation via our national Football Association was based on the number of games we had covered England playing both home and away during the qualification.
Trips to Kazakhstan where someone in Schiphol airport had unlocked by bag and stolen some cameras, a three day trip in Belarus and a return to Croatia were some of the memorable places I had been to in the past 24 months.
After nervous waits for emails over Christmas, we eventually got our passes and today was the day we collected them.
Queues of over an hour long in the now hot midday sun saw us eventually enter into a cool marquee type tent.
We knew we would not make the game.
With my colleagues rubbing shoulders with Jim Rosenthal of ITV we were soon badged up.
Going back to the lodge using walkie talkies in our little convoy was fun. They were a good purchase. <<ROGER THAT – OVER>>
Another meeting with Louise at the lodge showing the others their new homes was the main order of the afternoon with myself taking out Japanese photographer to meet delegates from FIFA and the Japanese Football Association.
The sun as always in the Autumn / Winter in South Africa dropped out of the sky very quickly.
An equally impressive sunset was to be seen as dusk was earlier this morning.
A quick shop for some food and then finding more logistical problems due to us as a group not having enough cars for transportation resulted in us all heading for our rooms for a much needed sleep.
It was 22.30 but bed was calling.
It now seems like 4am since the sun set so early today. We have seemed to have been in darkness for half the night.
No doubt we will get used to it but it is now getting cold and jumpers and tracksuit bottoms are the dress wear to enable a safe passage though the night without waking up with the shivers.
The leaves on the trees are nearly gone. Autumn is nearly over as golden leaves litter our driveway.
I’m off airport duty tomorrow and don’t have to meet 2 more snappers arriving at 0535 – I did my shift today, but I have to go to a camera repair center due to a lens coming apart during transit. Camera lenses are not made like they were used to. I need my cameras to work!
After all this is why I am here.
So much for a relaxing first day!