Jeremy Paxman

Jeremy Paxman

“Vuvuzelas should be banned”

After the reappearance of the vuvuzela at recent late summer events, our columnist is on a mission to make the irksome plastic horn history.

Do you remember the vuvuzela, the tuneless horn that ruined the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa for so many? I regret to inform you that reports of its death are greatly exaggerated; first we heard it during the Soccer Aid charity match at Old Trafford in June and then again at the Notting Hill Carnival in August. At least we have been spared it so far at the Rugby World Cup.  

Of course, rugby fans have their own travails with noise. We’ve got used to visiting French teams bringing along their supporters, with an entire band in tow, the bass drums of which are stuffed implausibly into the pantalons of an obligingly obscure local mayor. They then shuffle past dozy turnstile officials who reveal they know quite as much about the average Frenchman as the good people of 1800s Hartlepool who – or so the story goes – hanged a monkey under the impression it was a French spy, because the poor thing could not speak English. The turnstile officials are still none the wiser when the French band strikes up La Marseillaise, saluting the fact that the team happens to be leading by a point or two.  I think I have even caught the skirl of illicit pipes during a recent Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and England.  

God only knows what the turnstile operative made of the man with what appeared to be six prominent nipples on his left shoulder. But the point about both drums and bagpipes is that they are designed for the collaborative making of music, whereas the vuvuzela is sold as a solitary vice, intended to produce a noise that should only be heard in the bathroom. Or perhaps as an accompaniment to caricaturist James Gillray’s scathing attack on the future George IV, A Voluptuary under the Horrors of Digestion. In the picture, an indolent, corpulent Prince George sprawls in a chair, surrounded by pills and potions for “stinking breath” and “the piles”, an overflowing chamber pot at his side.  

I regret to inform you that reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

A rather pathetic defence has been made for vuvuzelas, that they were at least authentically African – presumably after an unreported pandemic left survivors deaf across the continent. However, Africa has most certainly given us far finer musical instruments than one which blows a raspberry to the world.  

If there was any justice, the vuvuzela would have been consigned to the bin housing non-recyclable plastics. Instead, there are thousands of the damn things just waiting for some moron to blow through them.

On the August bank holiday weekend the sellers of these infernal machines converge on Notting Hill Gate for the Carnival. God knows what it is like for those who live along the route of the procession. We live on one of the approach roads, just down from a from a seller of the fart machines and his mate at the chicken wing stand (which means that at the end of the day the ground is liberally carpeted with the sort of bones fatal to pet dogs.) Every August it’s the same. There you are enjoying your morning ablutions and working your way through the Oklahoma! songbook when your mind is split by the honk of a vuvuzela blast. 

The good news is that the gang of incompetents and others who periodically stumble over their wallets and like to think they “control” football, have banned this noisesome nuisance in some matches. Vuvuzelas weren’t allowed in the stadiums at the World Cup in Qatar last winter, for example. Although even that didn’t stop the menace entirely, with one TV presenter pushing for an early ad break in the Switzerland vs Cameroon match so she could “find the vuvuzela and break it over my knee”. That’s the spirit.  

It should be banned everywhere.

Jeremy Paxman

Written by Jeremy Paxman