The World Cup road show is now nearly two weeks old, but Spaniards will have to wait two weeks more before discovering whether Bobby Ewing has run his marriage onto the rocks by reviving old romances during Pamela's working trip to Paris. That was the state of play in the "Dallas" saga before all-consuming soccer wiped the soap opera off the television screen.
The daily cycle of illusion and reality has come to a standstill. In real life Premier Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo is battling to keep his government party together, not to mention his own political future, and the Army is said to be restless. But cafe talk is about last night's game, tonight's game and tomorrow night's. The cafes all have television sets above the bar and every self-respecting newspaper carries a daily, eight-page supplement containing all the soccer gossip that conceivably could be printed.
There is a big brother watching over Spain and he is very familiar. He is called "Naranjito"--Little Orange. Spain's national fruit dressed up in the Spanish national colors passes for the World Cup emblem, and it will see you through your vacation: in the morning you don your Naranjito T-shirt, pack your Naranjito beach towel in your Naranjito shoulder bag and head for the sand with your Naranjito beach ball and your Naranjito suntan lotion. The aperitif will be Naranjito wine served with Naranjito peanuts on a Naranjito plate.
IN BILBAO, some English soccer fans have "I'm an 'orrible 'ooligan" printed over a British bulldog on their T-shirts. But most of them go stripped to the waist sporting their tattoos. As the fierce sun mottles their backs they drape Union Jacks over their shoulders like Roman capes. The English have improvised a new anthem to the tune of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." In a bar by the stadium before a recent match they were practicing it: "We've got the Falklands in our hands, we got the Falklands in our hands."
Projecting Naranjito into the Anthony Burgess fantasy the English soccer fans are the "Clockwork Orange" mob holding the stage in Bilbao. It is Pamplona's bull-running festival relieved by the punk British unemployed in the stately Basque shipping and commercial center. The bulls are the no-nonsense riot police who move the fans on from bar to bar up and down Bilbao's Chinatown until the early morning.
Down in Alicante, where Argentina is playing, the fans who arrived on package tours from Buenos Aires have a counterslogan: "Espana, Argentina, Gibraltar y Malvinas." Both England and Argentina will have to make it to the finals for them to meet in a match.
THE EXOTIC as opposed to the barbaric was to be found in La Coruna, in the northwest corner of Spain, where Cameroon, first-timers to World Cup soccer finals, has set up its training camp. The word was that the Cameroonians had brought their own witch doctor to help them along. Cameroon-watchers at the hotel swore that complicated rituals involving chickens being beheaded and their blood drunk by the players took place on match days. The Cameroonian government official traveling with the squad was very angry: "It's unbelievable that stories like that should be put around. They are incredible fantasies."
In Malaga the New Zealand squad, also new to the finals, was very relaxed. By the latest count the "Kiwis" had taken time off to make a trip to Tangiers, had watched two bullfights and had sat up most of the night at a flamenco fiesta. The locals noted approvingly that the New Zealanders had dropped their special consignments of homegrown lamb in favor of Malaga's deep-fried fish cuisine. Their coach said, "We're here to learn." They lost all three of their matches.
Losing was not the game in Valladolid, high up on the central plateau north of Madrid, where Kuwait was having its first shot at World Cup glamor. The Persian Gulf Arabs balked at a French goal and forced the referee, from the Soviet Union, to disallow it by threatening to walk off the field. It was unprecedented blackmail for this World Cup, and it cost Kuwait a $50,000 fine. The French won anyway, and the Kuwaiti squad began to lose faith in their last-minute mascot--a camel hired from a Spanish film props company. The camel was accustomed to excitement, the Kuwaiti squad had been told: "He's acted with Anthony Quinn."
Now there is a report that the Kuwaitis will donate the camel to the Madrid Zoo on condition that it be given food fit for a sheik.
WITH THE EXCITEMENT on Spain's periphery, where the first round games were being played, Madrid is in the doldrums. "Its like the hungry '40s," said the headwaiter of a long-established Madrid restaurant as he gloomily surveyed the empty dining room. But in the 1940s there were 10 empty restaurants in the capital and now there must be 500--and no television.
Madrid will be packed next week when the cup comes to the capital for the second round and then the big final on July 11. Now it's the quiet before the storm.
In a crucial Congress debate Basque and Catalan nationalists were threatening civil disobedience if legislation were passed limiting regional self-rule. But even as the speeches were made transistor sets in the debating chamber kept Congress interest centered on the soccer progress. Everything else pales by comparison. Including "Dallas."