Friday, 18 June 2010

What shall we do with the Vuvuzela...

The World Cup is now in full swing. It seems as though every ad campaign in existence has found a way of involving Terry Venables (curious to see how Tampax and Toilet Duck work him into their concepts) and watercoolers around the country are besieged with people lamenting England's outdated adherence to the 4-4-2 arrangement.

Our boys may be playing with all the enthusiasm of a care home resident prodding his pudding with a plastic teaspoon, but strangely, the biggest source of anxiety so far is the African equivalent of the football rattle.

The vuvuzela (or lepatata if you speak Tswana) is an elongated plastic blowing horn which emits an annoying buzzing noise, and is a standard accessory at most South African football matches. I'm sure the occasional short burst wouldn't be too bad, but 90 minutes of incessant buzzing is sufficient to make you worry that you're either developing a new strain of tinitus or about to be attacked by a swarm of hornets.

In fact, the only sound more annoying that the constant humming of 40,000 vuvuzelas is the mindless droning of the commentators, who manage to make Megan Fox sound lucid and informed.

The BBC has been inundated with complaints about the annoying plastic horns, prompting sound engineers to investigate whether it's possible to deliver an alternative sound feed of the matches with the honking and buzzing muted out. Presumably, suggesting that viewers locate the volume switch on their remotes would be too simple a solution?

Anyway, the Telegraph reported that help may finally be at hand from a most unusual source. Neil van Schalkwyk, who first cottoned on to the idea of mass producing vuvuzelas for football matches, is now attempting to atone for his sins by manufacturing earplugs to drown out the incessant humming.

This 'hearing protection' is called "vuvuzela unplugged" and enables fans to block out the noise and protect themselves from permanent hearing damage. Even better, the industrious ex-plastics factory worker now plans to export the vuvuzelas and ear-plugs once the World Cup is over.

Suddenly, all those conspiracy theories about companies like Symantec and McAfee creating viruses to keep their PC security systems in demand don't seem quite so preposterous. I'm sure it won't be too long before Sir James Dyson starts manufacturing 3kg bags of household filth.

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