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Here today, gone tomorrow


Each craze started and ended abruptly and apparently without any official reason

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I could never understand, when I was at school, how one craze ended and a new one began.

One day everybody would be spinning tops. You could hardly move on the playground for fear of having a sharp pointed top whack you on the toe.

Then, for no apparent reason, all the tops would vanish and the school grounds would be awash with marbles.

People drew circles in the dust and competed for marbles. Each design had a different value and the rare ones were treasures worth shooting for. Every pair of school pants rattled from the marbles packed into pockets.

Then one day the marbles would disappear. Nobody knew why, but suddenly marbles were worth nothing.

Flights of paper aeroplanes next swooped over the grounds until it looked as though there’d been a snowstorm. The headmaster made it a punishable offence to fly a paper aeroplane that didn’t have your name on it. If a plane was picked up in the school grounds the owner was punished.

We had a kite season, then a kennetjie season, then a bok-bok season, then we made crystal radios.

Each craze started and ended abruptly and apparently without any official reason.

I have thought about those school ground crazes over the years. Who decided on the next craze? How did each one end and why did the next one begin?

I came to the conclusion that young children were simply creatures of another species and ordinary grown-up humans couldn’t hope to understand them.

I was wrong. No matter how old we are, we still have crazes and seasons. They may be more expensive and last rather longer than the school playground fads, but human nature hasn’t changed much.

Ten years ago, if I looked out over False Bay on any weekend afternoon I would have seen at least a dozen Hobie Cats with brightly coloured sails streaking back and forth across the waves.

Fish Hoek was Hobie heaven and by 9am on a weekend the boats were being rigged and launched into the surf. I have not seen a Hobie for a year or more now. I walk down to the beach and there isn’t a Hobie to be seen. Where did they go?

Today the bay is packed with paddlers. On any day of the week I can be pretty sure of seeing a fleet of kayaks paddling past. I’m told there are so many of them now that they’ve taken over the storage space that used to be reserved for the Hobies. I wonder what fad will follow.

Stand-up paddling seems to be bidding for top spot.

Last Laugh

The Pope and a politician arrived at the Pearly Gates together and St Peter greeted them and said: “Your holiness, allow me to show you to your quarters first.”

The politician tagged along and saw the Pope being shown a comfortable apartment with a nice view over Heaven.

Then the politician was ushered into a fancy palace with all mod cons including a guardian angel and wide-screen TV.

“Why do I get such a luxury place when the Pope was given a modest flat?” asked the politician.

“Oh, we get plenty of Popes up here,” said St Peter. “We haven’t had a politician for centuries.”