In Brazil, pretty girls talk to me. This is a new experience and not an unpleasant one.
On Copacabana Beach, women in bikinis made with less material than my dental floss are all over me like a cheap coat.
I am armed not with Ryan Gosling's looks or Hugh Grant's charm, but a Fifa World Cup media accreditation pass and a video camera. Everyone, it seems, wants to be on TV.
Ordinarily, it's not advisable to interrupt a Brazilian beach volleyball game and ask to take photos of the shiny, happy people getting jiggy with it. They shout out things like "dirty old man" and "call the police".
But a quick wave of the magical media accreditation pass and they queue up to appear in a digital video for The New Paper's online app.
Occasionally, they require further convincing. Sometimes I might have to play existing TNP videos. Like a TV chef, I proudly exclaim here's one I made earlier and open the TNP app on my phone and let them watch a surreal video of a drunken Brazilian guy giving me the horn in Sao Paulo.
Don't get the wrong idea. He was going nuts with one of those long plastic ones and, I think, swearing at me in Portuguese as he professed his love of the Selecao.
These videos are usually enough to convince wary participants, but one dreadlocked drummer on Copacabana Beach (the places seems to suffer from a surplus of dreadlocked drummers) was a little worse for wear. He insisted, in a voice that was far too loud, that I was a pervert.
My videos were a cunning subterfuge, he claimed. My media accreditation was photo-shopped and I was just a dirty old man making beach videos of half-naked women.
So I pointed out that some of my videos were of pasty-faced, drunken Irishmen, tubby Brazilian hotel stuff, a 65-year-old retiree living in Manaus and a trio of human beer cans.
He conceded that I had a point, allowed me to film his drumming and sang a made-up song full of sexual innuendo and swearing. So he didn't make the cut.
But most folks are more than willing. Some even beg to be in a TNP World Cup video. While I was chatting with a mad German in an alarming wig outside the Rio Fan Fest, a rather attractive Brazilian woman interrupted and insisted that I interview her.
Well, we aim to please at The New Paper. She took part in my Pick a Winner contest with her friend, predicting the score of the upcoming Brazil-Colombia quarter-final.
The Pick a Winner videos are proving so popular that I'm now known as Paul the Octopus in Rio. Okay, that's not strictly true, but my scientific tests are serving me well. At press time, I was five out of six for the Round of 16 predictions, which just goes to show that beach wresting, tongue twisters and keepy-uppy in bikinis really is the only way to determine a game's outcome.
But the pretty girl thing really reached its peak with Jale Berahimi.
The Costa Rican TV presenter-bikini model had proved something of a hit with TNP readers so I tracked her down in Belo Horizonte and asked her for a chat.
She eyed me warily.
Then I explained that the chat was for an online video for Singapore's top football newspaper and she practically snatched the phone camera out of my hand and filmed herself.
In my foolish stab at professionalism, I passed the phone to a stranger so I wouldn't need an outstretched arm or a selfie stick. He got too excited filming Jale. His zooming was so erratic he left the shot slightly out of focus, giving it a hazy, dreamlike quality.
Still, TNP readers haven't complained. In fact, they gave me a list on Twitter of the other female presenters they'd like me to get on camera.
It is my journalistic duty to give TNP readers what they want.
I started this World Cup as an author. I'm finishing it as a stalker.
This article was first published on JULY 2, 2014.
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