Scotland play Brazil down south today. Today’s cab driver is a chatty Scotsman merrily drawing puffs from his nicotine inhaler. From the get go it seems like he is in the mood to talk. The bright sunny weather offers him a starting point.
– Sunny day today, he says when I finally get my seat belt fastened and the journey kicked off. We make small talk about the weather, and how spring seems to have come a little earlier this year. He gently chides me, warning me not to tempt fate by celebrating the weather.
– It can change any time you know. We just need to enjoy it while it lasts. His comment is delivered with a faint air of brooding, like an indulgent father warning a son to mend his ways after drinking a keg of palm wine, and belching for good measure.
Silence descends as we meander through the streets – packed with cars during the lunch time rush hour. To break the uncomfortable silence, I ask what his predictions for the Scotland game will be.
– The lads will get beat, he says. They’ve got nae talent, he adds. I ponder his words. The Scottish male national football team has been dire of late. The coach, a certain Craig Levein seems more intent on not losing than winning, nearly coping a 1-1 draw with Lichtenstein who are not exactly known for football.
Out of the blue, he asks me if I’m Nigerian. I reply in the affirmative. There is a certain lustre in his eyes as he proceeds to recount his memories of watching Scotland play Nigeria in a football friendly just before the 2002 World Cup.
-It was my son’s birthday, he says. I took the entire family down to Pittodrie for the game. Great occasion too, he adds. Lots of colour, happy fans, and singing. Oh and Scotland lost the game any way.
I laugh, uneasily. It is yet another stark reminder of how poor his National football team have been since the halcyon years of successive World Cup qualifications.
Us Nigerians have always been colorful performers I say. We love to sing and dance.
He smiles wistfully. You know even when Nigeria was leading, the fans kept singing a song, ‘All we are saying, give us one goal’
I laugh out loud, its a popular song in Nigeria I say. It’s been used in diverse situations from protest marches to football games.
-Maybe they were protesting, and asking for more goals, he says. We laugh together.
The rest of the journey is spent ruminating on how football songs evolve. One more good cab trip I’ve made – well worth the 20 pounds I paid I think.