Disaster! When disasters strike, they arrive like buses – in twos or threes. In my case, 25 disasters. I was going to grace the Nigerian television screens resplendent in African shirts for each of the 25 days on screen, but, it turns out that patterned shirts are rubbish for television. They create a dizzying effect, and can cause fits in epilepsy sufferers, or so I’m led to believe. My suitcase is packed with African shirts, enough to open a shop, is now useless. I brought two plain tops, two!
I will be forced to wear boring plain shirts, or I might have to invest in football related tops. Why can’t someone invent a camera which is compatible with African shirts? It would do people like me a whole lot of good.
Anyway, I went to do my first shoot today. We started off by going to Römer, a square just near the River Main, which runs through Frankfurt. The Germans are kings of technology. There is a fans viewing area with large screens to watch the games. But the coup de grace is a hugenormous (pronounced "huge-normous")screen which is in the middle of the river. Fans can sit on either side of the river bank to watch the game. The word is “espectaculo”. I didn’t get any chance to take pictures, because I was busy working. There’s still a month to go, so I’ll be sure to get some before I leave.
Today was a day of making discoveries, happy ones, and not so happy ones. The happy discovery was getting to the stadium to sort out accreditation and finding out that England were going to be training about half an hour after we got there. Off we went to set up and capture the England stars playing, Rooney kicking at the ball like one of those vicious kick-boxers on Bravo, Crouch surprisingly subdued and not sparking any new dance crazes. I also bumped an old journalist friend from Egypt, who has just published a book on his football journeys in Eastern Europe.
A not so happy discovery was a small bout of self doubt, that I think I’m slightly rubbish on television. I know, it’s not the most auspicious time to find out. They can’t exactly fire me now, it’s too late. It must have been rustiness, as I haven’t done any proper camera stuff since last year. Never fear, underdog is here. As time went on, it got better. Even though it's not blarney stone material, it’s okay. I hate watching myself on screen and I hate listening to myself on screen. It might appear that thinking all these things and still carrying on with it is masochistic. I agree, it is. But there’s nothing like a bit of self harm, ya know?.
I make my Nigerian television debut tomorrow. My mum and all her friends are going to be watching. The question now is: to tell or not to tell? Yep, it’s the hair again. I have cornrows, and I’m about to go on national television, but my mother doesn’t know. She will receive a shock when she sees it, but I could lessen the shock by giving her advance warning. Or, out of principle, I could refuse to tell her, and expect to be open-minded and tolerate my hair. The latter option is looking more likely as I type this. She’ll be shocked, and then she’ll have to explain to her friends that Nkem is still a good boy. That his hair doesn’t mean he does drugs or is an irresponsible person. The irresponsibility thing is a bit debatable, but she doesn’t know that.
Last night, I didn’t dream of San Pedro, but we had a little quartet outside our flat (above), playing a little chanson. The area is all middle class families riding their bikes, walking their dogs, and drinking beer on broad sidewalks. It’s called Merianplatz, which is the heart the German Green Party. The former Foreign Secretary, Joschka Fischer has his parliamentary seat here. Our fixer, Knut, described it as “a little bit liberal, a little bit left wing”. Think of an upmarket Edgware Road, with the quietude of Bayswater. The local authorities appear to have had a guilty conscience with regard to tree planting. After churning out a few gas guzzling Mercs and BMWs, they had to atone for their sins by planting whole rainforests in their neighbourhoods. At night, the streets are so dark because the lights have been blocked out by broad, tall trees.
Frankfurt is a centre of convergence for all the fans, and this is probably because it’s also the main hub for Lufthansa. One rather curious moment was when we interviewed a few Neo-Nazis. One of them turned out to be very knowledgeable about Nigeria, asking if we were from Lagos or Abuja, and then wishing Nigeria luck in qualifying for the next World Cup. Harmless little puppies they were. They might have had grand gothic tattoos, and invited us smoke grass with them, but harm us? They were as soft as Andrex.