The Worm That Turned

‘And that big building is the biggest hospital in Latin America, where Diego Maradona underwent his rehabilitation and Alain Delon recovered from a broken elbow. What is the weather like in Finland then? You don’t have much of a tan.’

Edited highlights from my ‘guided tour’ of Havana, week before last.

Poor weather meant that I also had the questionable privilege of assessing the results of Maradona’s successful rehabilitation, several times, via TV repeats of a round-table ‘discussion’ featuring the man himself as an esteemed guest.

Looking as trim as at any time during his football career, and an altogether more relaxed individual than the camera-frightening maniac of USA ’94, he showed remarkable powers of endurance in smiling and nodding his way through his pal Fidel’s lengthy monologues (which were quite humorous, to be fair, as these things go).

In fact, there were flashes where the pair showed potential to be quite the double act:

Maradona, referring to the US ambassador to Argentina, pitches it nicely:

‘Es de origen cubano, no? (He’s of Cuban origin, innit?)’

Castro, showing the timing of an old baseball pro, knocks it out of the park:

Si, de origen gusano. (Yes, he’s of worm origin.)

Hearty laughs all round. Well, the first time anyway.

Still too jet-lagged to write anything coherent. More fragmented reflections may follow.

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November 2005
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