He had felt that a moment before his making the turn, someone had been there. The air seemed charged with a special calm as if someone had waited there, quietly, and only a moment before he came, simply turned to a shadow and let him through. Perhaps his nose detected a faint perfume, perhaps the skin on the backs of his hands, on his face, felt the temperature rise at this one spot where a person's standing might raise the immediate atmosphere ten degrees for an instant. There was no understanding it. Each time he made the turn, he saw only the white, unused, buckling sidewalk, with perhaps, on one night, something vanishing swiftly across a lawn before he could focus his eyes or speak. But now, tonight, he slowed almost to a stop. His inner mind, reaching out to turn the corner for him, had heard the faintest whisper. Breathing? Or was the atmosphere compressed merely by someone standing very quietly there, waiting?He turned the corner.
I thought I was getting away from politics for a while. But I now realise that the vuvuzela is to these World Cup blogs what Julius Malema is to my politics columns: a noisy, but sadly unavoidable irritant. With both Malema and the vuvuzela, their importance is far overstated. Malema: South Africa's Robert Mugabe? I think not. The vuvuzela: an archetypal symbol of 'African culture?' For African civilisation's sake, I seriously hope not. Both are getting far too much airtime than they deserve. Both have thrust themselves on to the world stage through a combination of hot air and raucous bluster. Both amuse and enervate in roughly equal measure. And both are equally harmless in and of themselves though in Malema's case, it is the political tendency that he represents, and the right-wing interests that lie behind his diatribes that is dangerous. With the vuvu I doubt if there are such nefarious interests behind the scenes; it may upset the delicate ears of the middle classes, both here and at the BBC, but I suspect that South Africa's democracy will not be imperilled by a mass-produced plastic horn.