“AG, jissis, boys. Fokkit!” one of my favorite media relations people, long since departed, would say after having messed up, followed by: “Boys, can I buy you a dop?”
For a while, we boycotted those drinks, but then realised it wasn't exactly going to make the generous fellow any better at PR, so one by one we started agreeing to the comfort of a drink of forgiveness.
Late yesterday afternoon I thought of him again, and wished I could buy you all a dop, because “Ag jissis, boys, fokkit”.
“It's not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It's the hope…”
Look, this year I and many of us once again succumbed to that old ailment of Proteas supporters: hope. Just as John Cleese in the guise of Brian Stimpson reckoned in the hilarious frustration of Clockwise.
We know the feeling, right?
This year we went in with our usual expectation-free glee, but there they went, standing up and being on fire. The Proteas beat England and Australia and hit the World Cup with meaning.
So, five easy wins, two tough ones, and two nasty beatings later, a semifinal against the Aussies was their reward for a satisfactory list of performances in India.
Australia, who lost four of their previous five matches against South Africa — after all, what could go wrong?
Well, then we remembered.
We came close to forgetting, but yesterday morning at around 11.30, with our men on 24/4 after 12 overs, we were once again painfully reminded that it is the World Cup, and as Proteas supporters we are not destined to have good memories of World Cup tournaments.
There was Duckworth-Lewis in 1992 and 2003, and in 1999 the most infamous choke of all chokes against Australia.
Yesterday's thrashing initially reminded us most of the defeat of 2007, when a formidable set of Protea top batsmen also more or less surrendered to the Aussies.
At least this time they fought back with proper courage and left us almost to the bitter end with that pesky emotion of hope, at least until about two overs later when we started saying to ourselves: man, it's time to pour myself a dop.
Look, yesterday's performance obviously doesn't nearly qualify as a choke.
To qualify for choking, you must have been the favourite to win at some stage, and that was not the case for the Proteas yesterday after the sixth over of their innings.
The Proteas' approach in this tournament had been right on the money: be patient when batting, then slightly less patient, then a bit hasty, and then the cannon-batters come in and open their shoulders properly in the last 10 overs.
Yesterday they could set the target, as they prefer to do these days, but the Aussie quickies Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood frustrated the top batsmen to such an extent that they began to rush things on a tight pitch where even part-time spinners like Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell could easily make the ball spit and spin.
But my late father always reminded me to be patient: they still have to bat.
The Proteas' young fast bowlers initially got punished, but when Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and even Aiden Markram's spin began to confuse the Aussies, that naughty little fairy called Hope saw us moving around nervously on our chairs once again.
Temba Bavuma's field placement and bowling changes were mostly spot-on (I'll write more about him and the tournament as a whole next week), although I would have let Maharaj bowl earlier to break the rhythm of the Australian openers.
That said, I — like almost all their critics — know far less about cricket than Bavuma and Rob Walter, and if only two of the five admittedly difficult catching chances in the Australian innings had been taken, I would have had to write this entire sad report from scratch right before deadline.
In that alternative reality I am now slightly panicked, but with a bubbling spirit.
As things stand, though, I can't be too terribly upset. All I expect from teams I support are that they have big ones, and you can't say the Proteas didn't have those yesterday.
What India is to cricket, France is to rugby, yours truly has argued many times.
At the moment, the French are the only ones who really make money from rugby; their clubs are the biggest drawcards for all the top players in the world, and they have undue influence with the international governing body.
But in the process, I also talked nonsense many times.
First, they will have to start breeding like bunnies.
There are only 68 million of them, and most prefer football.
There are 1.5 billion Indians, and most of them are obsessed with cricket; it was only a matter of time before sheer superiority of numbers and enthusiasm for the sport would cause India to almost always be the favourites in cricket.
India has more money than the rest of the cricketing world combined.
In fact, monetarily, very little would have gone on in world cricket these days if the Indians had preferred, say, baseball.
Three of the top five ODI batsmen in the world are among their ranks, as well as three of the five best ODI bowlers.
And the fast bowler Mohammed Shami and middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer, two of this tournament's undisputed standout players, do not even count in those ranks.
Virat Kohli has his mojo back with meaning and became the first man to score 50 centuries in one-day international cricket in their semi-final against New Zealand on Wednesday.
All things considered, they are practically invincible at home, as is evident from the 10 fairly easy wins they have accrued so far in this tournament on their home pitches.
But just to make doubly sure, the Board of Control for Cricket in India seems to have given the Indian team management a free pass to choose the kind of pitch to prepare for their matches.
And the International Cricket Council is silent as the grave about what is at best a serious breach of protocol and at worst cheating; as it is, it's just a bunch of embittered English and Aussie journalists grumbling about it.
Man, would the French Rugby Federation have liked this!
So, all things considered, the day after tomorrow I'm cheering for the Aussies for the first time since John Eales and Tim Horan stopped playing rugby.
Everyone knows the dice are loaded, but if Indian cricket is a super version of France — let's be honest — then the men with the green caps are the cricket version of South Africa in rugby.
When the you-know-what hits the fan, they are the toughest bastards out there, and best equipped to come out of it all unscathed.
So, never thought I would, but: Ocker, Ocker, Ocker! Oi! Oi! Oi!
Just for Sunday.
Anyway, it's Friday and things are slightly depressing cricket-wise, so let's groove a bit!
Little would the characters in the epic cricket movie Lagaan have dreamed that their great-great-grandchildren would one day beat the Khakis' great-great-grandchildren by 100 runs in a World Cup tournament, but here Aamir Khan nevertheless coaches his cobbled-together village team to the tune of the great AR Rahman:
One of Asha Bhosle's more than 20,000 recordings, this time a bit of party jazz from 1957:
And for those of you who prefer a pinch of rock in your musical salt, London's Asian Dub Foundation has heaps of ass-kicking tunes about the South Asian diaspora:
♦ VWB ♦
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