YOU know you are getting old when a new playground craze sweeps the world but you’ve only just heard about it.
The latest thing that every little kid – or at least every little girl – wants to get their hands on at the moment is something called loom bands.
In an age when Father Christmas is most likely to get requests for sophisticated computer games and miniature motor bikes, you wouldn’t think loom bands would be so popular, considering they are, believe it or not, just rubber bands.
Mr Google tells me they are not unlike the ones our postman drops on our drive most mornings, only multi-coloured.
The idea is to weave them into bracelets, necklaces and animal shapes, either with your fingers or a special device called a rainbow loom (about £12.99).
And if you had any doubt about their true credentials as a craze, then I have to tell you that they have already received the ultimate endorsement. It isn’t a proper craze until a headteacher has found a reason to ban it, and I understand the problem with loom bands is some kids have been using them as weapons.
At least there have been no reports yet, as far as I know, of parents fighting over them, unlike during the great Tracy Island crisis of 1992, when grown men and women came to blows over the last one in the shop, until Blue Peter heroically stepped in with a version made out of pipe cleaners and sticky-backed plastic.
How these crazes start and how they turn into epidemics is anybody’s guess, but we should all be experts by now.
I was brought up with stories of whips and tops and hoops and sticks on my mother’s knee, whereas my older sister learned to be handy with the hula hoop.
Probably the king of crazes in my younger days was the Rubik’s Cube, when your street credibility was determined by whether you could do it or not. I could. Eventually.
Like loom bands, there were some crazes that were more girl-oriented. When I asked my wife to name some that she fell under the spell of when she was at school, she got all excited and instantly came up with stilts and Spacehoppers.
Sometimes I think she should have married a Spacehopper.
Then she named hot pants, which again wasn’t a craze that either me, my brothers nor my friends from school were particularly keen to spend money on, and which we classified less as a craze than a spectator sport.
We were thankfully the wrong age by the time Cabbage Patch Dolls came along, but as parents we suffered emotional blackmail and then loathing during crazes for Furbies, Tamagotchis and – worst of all – those damned Pokemon cards. At least there was no danger of them having your eye out, which had always been a worry with clackers in our school and, sure enough, they were banned from the playground.
Such happy memories – and on second thoughts I don’t think you’re necessarily old if you haven’t heard of the latest fad. On the contrary, we’ve ridden the first two waves of crazes – which infected us and then our children – but the third is still to come, and we can look forward to the inevitability that our grandchildren, when we get some, will pester us to buy them whatever is the craze of the day.
And I will leave you with this thought: somebody, somewhere, is sipping champagne on their luxury yacht because they happened to own a warehouse full of elastic bands.