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"During his six years working for St Helens Council Education Department, Paul was, among other things, our in-house "languages expert", doing the translating, interpreting and liaison with our twin towns in Chalon-Sur-Saône, France, Stuttgart, Germany and El Prat de Llobregat, Spain. His participation has enabled us to maintain strong links with all three towns, particularly in the field of education, where he set up and managed a very successful work experience programme for sixth formers"
Brian Mainwaring, Director of Education, St Helens Council, August 1995

FIFA World Cup Report – Opening Ceremony PDF
Friday, 11 June 2010 00:00

from Carolyn Emmett, Montejaque's correspondent in South Africa

FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert, June 10th (starting at 8:00 p.m., but with warm-up acts from 4:00).

We left home at 3:30 p.m.  to make the one-hour drive to Orlando Stadium (very close to Soccer City Stadium in Soweto). We were armed with our (bloody expensive – 90 euros each) tickets and a map to the complimentary park-and-ride facilities.

We crawled in traffic from about 4:00, eventually reaching the intersection/turn-off for the P&R at 5:30 ... to find it was blocked off with traffic cones and policemen directing everyone to drive straight on. This we did, for about 3 km., and realising the stadium was getting farther and farther behind us ... so we turned around, travelled through an extremely dubious area of Soweto (not the best place to be in a bright yellow BMW), and headed back to the intersection. We parked in the right-turn lane (which was blocked off) and I got out of the car and challenged one of the traffic cops about “Where the heck is the park and ride; I’ve got 3,000 rands’ worth of tickets, this is a load of crap, what are we supposed to do next, the concert starts in a couple of hours ... etc., etc.” The policeman told us to turn left and look for the park and ride signs for Nasrec, so we cut across three lanes of traffic to do so.

About 3 km. down the road, we saw a sign to turn right, but were directed to keep on going to the next intersection, where we then turned right into the entrance of the parking lot. At a junction at the top, a traffic cop directed us to turn right again ... and we then found ourselves exiting the park and ride and coming down the street we had originally not been allowed to turn into! So we turned right onto the main road, and right again. This time, by ignoring the gesticulations of the traffic cop at the junction, we turned left ... and finally found a parking space about 10 mins. later.

We then walked (I swear) about 3 km. to where the buses were loading. (On the way, I had to go behind a parked car in the bushes to relieve my very agitated bladder, having already spent 3.5 hours in the car to this point). We were finally through the stadium gates by 7:15 p.m. – when we then queued for 30 mins. to get some much-needed beers. We made it into our seats by 7:50 p.m.

As far as the concert was concerned, it’s kudos to Alicia Keys and Shakira (who were brilliant), and raspberries to The Parlotones, and quite a few of the other famous artists, who performed only one song. Eighty percent of the concert was by Africans performing African music. (OK, I know we’re in Africa, but I thought this was a FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert – i.e. celebrating the 32 countries that are playing football here. Ha, ha)! (The night before this concert, we went to the theatre to see ‘Diamonds and Dust’ – which featured all African-inspired music, and which cost 10 euros a ticket! It was so much more enjoyable)!

Every so often, a video promoting 1goal (education for all) was played on the big screens, making us feel a bit guilty about sitting at a concert where we’d paid a relative fortune for our tickets. (I didn’t go there to be bombarded with propaganda).

The highlight of the evening was probably the vitality of the speech given by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the tribute to Nelson Mandela. Great.

As the time approached 11:00 p.m., and we realised the concert was about to end, we shot out of there like scalded cats, and were able to get onto one of the first few buses going back to the P&R. Another 3 km. walk back to the car, dammit ... certainly walked off the three large beers I had! Getting home was not too bad, as I managed to fall into bed at about 12:30 a.m.

© Carolyn Emmett


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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