Language is my whore, my mistress, my wife, my pen-friend, my check-out girl. Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it's the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it's a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.
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.