SORRY COLLEEN

                           All the colours of a pixel pie: R90, at Big Blue stores in South Africa

Back in the day when school bags were suitcases, when grades were standards and a girl called Colleen made our favourite pencil crayons, there was nothing like this. Colleen’s pencil crayons were the best (and I’m not complaining) but there was no such thing as a tin of pencil crayons with a cover look borrowed from the legendary Sir Paul of London.

It’s back-to-school again. I’ve always had a soft spot for back-to-school. Afraid so. Loved everything about it. I remember the feeling of a brand new pair of stiff, uncreased school shoes. The waxy shine and the smell of new leather had a special kind of wonderfulness, made even more wonderful by the feeling of new white cotton socks that had yet to see the inside of a washing machine.

Newness rocked. I liked it all the more because, being the youngest, I got a lot of second hand. I got faded, second hand everything, with hems that had been taken up and let down repeatedly, that smelled of lavender scented Sta Soft, the ironing board, and my big sister’s wardrobe.

In a surprising turn of sentiment, the youth of today – the ones in the immediate vicinity of me – want old everything. They like the soft, faded, slouchiness that is nothing like the look, feel or smell of a new pair of shoes or a stiff new white shirt, fresh from the school shop with its tag on. They don’t mind who broke the stuff in before them, as long as somebody did. They think the schoolbag from 2007 is completely fine. Buggered up is the new black.

Again, no complaints.

But they’d better like these pencils as much as I do. If not, I’ll borrow them and use them for all my 2012 colouring in projects. Then I’ll give them back when they’re all grubby and stubby – all but the white one.

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