Friday, 31 July 2009


My neighbour, Matt, was one of the first people I saw using an earpiece for his mobile phone. This was late in the last century. Naturally, I wanted one too even though he apeared to be a bonkers person chatting to his imaginary friend. With my next phone, they gave me a free one. Great, I thought, until I put it in my ear. It fell out. I tried the other ear. Out it fell. There was obviously something wrong with this particular earpiece. I could not for the life of me work out how other people could wander around, jog even, with these small things happily hanging in their natural hearing devices. I had to make calls with my hand holding it in place, so I might as well have just held the phone there (except at the time we all thought we were going to get ear cancer from using phones; there were rumours of phones frying eggs - remember those?).

I had the same problem when airlines started to turn their headphones into micro-earphones. I spent one long haul flight with my eye-mask wrapped around my head to keep the silly things in so I could watch the films.

As for those useless things that come with an iPod - not a chance. I was looking forward to dancing down the street like the groovy people in the posters. Not a hope. I can just about keep them in if I sit still and pretend to be a statue. Even then, they slowly slide away and fall off in their own time. And yes, I can dance; that wasn't the problem.

You'll never guess what. I've got the wrong shaped ears. Not everyone has ears with a V-shaped notch. Mine are notch-free. So are my friend Kathy's and my nephew Alex's. I have to wear the ones that wrap around your ears and hold them in place or the great big ones that only people under 23 or in the music industry can pull off without looking like giant pillocks. I'm saving up for the Bang&Olufsens, but only when they make them in purple. Currently the special editions are the exact colours in which Ford brought out the special edition Mark 2 Cortinas: lemon, lime and orange. B&O, when you do plum and raspberry I'm all yours. (Ford followed up with metallic purple.)

Currently I have some shiny pink ones that match my i-Pod and came from Singapore airport, purchased for around £5 (called iLove and not the slightest bit looking as if they might be manufactured by apple, ahem... ).

I found out when I took a look at my ears in one of those hotel bathroom mirror arrangements that allows you to see the back and side of your own head, a situation which is so rare and entertaining that I usually like to take a long close look. My ears have no V, just a slanty I. All became clear.

The point? I now look at ears. Most of them have the V but around 5% of us don't (according to my statistically unsound survey of my friends and people whose heads I happen to notice in passing). That's a lot of ears. Has no-one told apple? Or do apple just reckon that we, the earily challenged, will go out and buy our own?

So there's today's idea for you. Go create an affordable pair of earphones we can find somewhere this side of Singapore and point out that many, many people don't have V-ears, they have I-ears.