It occurs to me as the plane drops steeply through the Andes towards Bogota that life is not what it seems. One day you can be a hick from the sticks, punting an old piece of leather from pillar to post with your school mates, work mates or enemy soldiers: the next, you’ve slipped through the egg timer of life and find yourself in the elite of the elite, hob nobbing with the glitterati, chatterati and flitterati as you wander aimlessly through the duty free shop looking for the biggest bar of Toblerone you can fit in your trouser pockets without being mistaken for a suicide bomber with a nasty surprise in his trousers.
You would be amazed at who loiters in Duty Free these days. Usually I rush through in a panic looking for the rapidly disappearing Ryan Air flight to Belfast, but today, with nothing to do but wait for 6 hours for the next connection to the deepest Amazonian jungle, I am able to saunter through Duty Free like I haven’t a care in the world, my Carioca trilby perched jauntily atop my head and my trusty footie boots hung around my neck. There can be no mistaking where I’m going: to join my team as an emergency stand in player for our indisputable forthcoming World Cup triumph.
Today I am inwardly startled and externally nonchalant about stellar members of the football universe who have also been waylaid from reaching Brazil’s welcoming football beaches and who are, like me, trolling through Duty Free. There’s Alex Gerrard deep in conversation with Elke Pfingstein (one time amour of Franzie (Beckenbauer, to the un-initiated amongst you). Elke looks a million dollars which is unsurprising given the hip replacement surgery she’s had over the last 49 years). And oooohh look over there! What’s he doing here at this time of the week of all weeks! He should be in São Paulo hanging out with his FIFA mates, not lurking around the duty free in Bogota airport! Can’t wait to tell the mates back home about this little sighting!
But I can’t malinger any longer: my flight is called, my business in Bogota done and I am off to join my fellow team mates who no doubt will be as delighted to see me as I am delighted to see them.