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Gives your holes a damn good plugging.
Eliminate most noise, comfortable .
Do not eliminate Irish mothers .
Value for Money
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First things first: my deepest, sincerest apologies for the title. Blame Bnibbles, a man not at all afraid to capitalise on the power of innuendo.
Earplugs are, to be honest, not something I ever pictured myself writing a review about. They're quite dull and mundane things, really. They are essential though, if you're any of the following:
- an insomniac/a light sleeper; - working night shifts; - a bastion of middle-class calm next to a chav-ridden housing estate; - unfortunate enough to have my mother as your mother. If this is so, well, I can't say I'm surprised but boy has she got some explaining to do.
Out of those four categories, I fall into 1 and 4 all the time, and 3 on one day of the year.
I've never been great at sleeping and once a year the local Orangemen and their supporters like to don fancy dress and take to the streets. Now, I don't begrudge anyone a party but when the housing estate that backs onto my street have a massive bonfire, hire the kind of sound system that puts Glastonbury to shame and put out a call to arms for the most spectacularly stupid and uninspired DJ ever to lay his hand on the decks ('Alright lads! This is DJ Loyalist Larry from the Orange massive! Mark? Your Ma says you're to have your tea before you go to the bonfire. Right folks, let's burn the pope to the sounds of, erm, Amy Winehouse. Yeah!') and they're still going strong at 3 in the morning, ear plugs are called for.
Aside, though, from the obvious 'helping you to get to sleep' benefits of ear plugs, they do have another, rather vital, use: without ear plugs it's likely that my mother and I would have come to blows long ago. The trick, I have established, is to listen to the first five minutes of conversation without responding. This, I find, is ample time to establish whether or not the conversation will veer along a path that ends with me wanting to punch her. If it looks like it's heading in that direction, I excuse myself to the toilet, slip in ear plugs and return, deaf to pretty much all that she says and capable of smiling and nodding beatifically. You can, of course, go the route my stepfather chose and ACTUALLY go deaf, but that seems like an awful lot of effort.
Conversations I've managed to miss while happily ear plugged up have been:
'People always thought you were a quiet baby, but it's because I got you drunk on sherry and kept you that way until you were six months old.'
'Your cousin in America is the same age as you and much more successful.'
'Are potatoes animals, or vegetables?'
'Why don't I have grandchildren yet?'
'I'd love a grandchild.'
'You could adopt a Chinese baby and then just give it to me. No one would need to know.'
'Do you think I'm too old to have a baby?'
Honestly, you've no idea how many Christmases these things have helped me survive (trust me, combine them with the anaesthetic properties of a bottle of Jack Daniels that you've had the foresight to stash in the cloakroom, and you're pretty much invincible). Anyway, now that we've established why you might need them, here's a quick overview of how earplugs work. For those of you who wish to treat the opening of the ear plug box as a personal revelation, look away…now!
What are ear plugs?
Well, they're plugs you put in your ears. No, honest to God, really they are. They're little cone shaped wedges of magic foam stuff that moulds itself to the shape of your ear when inserted and blocks out sound.
Will they hurt?
Not unless you insert them with a hammer, no. The foam is very soft and squishy and will expand to the size of your ear canal, creating a snug fit without putting your ear under undue pressure.
How should I put them in?
With a hammer! No, no, I jest. You should only take that option if you're a) looking to get semi-rich quick off of You've Been Framed or b) someone I don't like. Otherwise you should squeeze it between finger and thumb, and then gently and slowly slide it into your ear canal (you know, if I hadn't used the words 'ear canal' right at the last minute there, this could so be a line taken right out of a low-end erotic fiction novel. Not that I read that kind of stuff. Hell no. I'm just saying, is all) until the end of it is sitting just inside your ear lobe, i.e., don't push it so far in that minor surgery is going to be required to fish it out again. Once it's in you'll feel it expand (do you see what I'm saying about the erotic fiction?) and fit into place. Then you can do the other ear. Unless you're deaf in the other ear. You'll probably not need to bother in that case, unless you like your ears to feel symmetrical.
How should I take them out?
Grip the end of the ear plug between finger and thumb and gently twist and pull simultaneously.
Will they make me deaf?
No. They won't eliminate all noise, either, so don't fret about not being able to hear the alarm/smoke alarm/footsteps of a deranged and vicious serial killer (who you just know has been stalking your house for the last week but you didn't want to say anything to anybody in case they thought you were being a bit paranoid and now you totally wish you'd mentioned it, even in passing) as he tiptoes up the stairs having gained entry through the downstairs window you so carelessly left open.
It's tricky to explain, but once in they reduce noise to a very low-level hum that your brain seems capable of tuning out, allowing you to get to sleep. Strident noises like alarms and loud, nearby sounds penetrate this easily and will wake you up.
Will they fall out?
Unless you've managed to put them in wrongly, or have ears of such cavernous dimensions that they'd put the BFG to shame, no.
Will they cost loads of money?
Depends on whether you're poor or not, I s'pose. They're under three quid, but if you've already spent all your dole money on Stella and The Racing Post (this may sound harsh, but chavs have besmirched my little middle-class existence this weekend, and this is my revenge. If you are a nice person who happens to be on the dole temporarily and drinks Stella as a recreational activity, rather than with the kind of dedication that most people apply to their careers, I apologise) you can probably use wadded up toilet paper as a viable alternative. Otherwise, you get three pairs for your money and they're intended to be disposable. Unless your ears are clogged with industrial quantities of wax, though, you can get a few uses out of each pair. They also come in a little plastic carrying case, which is handy if you need to pop them in your luggage.
Can they be dangerous?
If you're my mother: yes. If you're normal: no. My mother will happily recount (oftentimes to complete strangers she bumps into in the pharmacy aisle of the supermarket) the tale of the time she put her earplugs in before going to bed, and then had a series of incredibly vivid, realistic dreams. One of these was that she had been at restaurant and had ordered a seafood platter. In the dream she bit into a prawn, only to find it incredibly tough and rubbery. Upon awakening, she discovered that, yes, she'd happily eaten both her ear plugs in her sleep. In theory, they could have choked her. In reality, nothing short of a big stick and a sustained battering's going to kill my mother.
Where can I get them?
Are you retarded? What's the name of the product, eh?
Should I buy them?
If you have trouble sleeping, probably. If you're female and have an Irish mother, then they're pretty much compulsory.
Pictures of Boots Soft Disposable Ear Plugs
Ian Paisley being an Orangeman. Big drum and obsequious son not pictured.
Really funny review..exceptional as usual..thanks..!!
jonathanb 16.10.2009 11:49
So does your mother want a grandchild? Or any baby at all, by the sound of things? I'm kind of getting that vibe. Entertaining as ever, but due to the log-like properties of my sleeping pattern I don't think I'd have much need for these at night. However they might prove useful as an anti-mother device for me as well, especially the next time she launches into a lengthy description of how to cook something, or a blow by blow account of the latest meeting of the gardening club featuring people, plants and strange gardening rituals that I've never heard of and have no interest in. My Dad took the going partly deaf for real route years ago. Can't think why.