Friday Thought: A youth wasted on the young


Of the many humiliations, degradations and unbuttonings the human animal goes through, one of the strangest is the ageing process.

The layers of self that deepen over time 'like a coastal shelf' often make us look back on our younger selves and see a stranger. The past is a foreign country and so those who hang on to their youth are often seen as strangers in a strange land.

This week saw another such example, when a council banned ‘Scotland’s happiest lollipop man’ from dishing out high-fives to passing schoolchildren.

Nkosana Mdikane achieved notoriety in West Dunbartonshire for dancing and enthusiastically greeting local parents and children on the school run.

A petition calling for West Dunbartonshire to reverse its decision, and show some support for a man who would seek to make that painful school run a little brighter, has attracted more than seven thousand signatures.

The petition blasted the council’s actions as ‘stupid’, adding that ‘the kids are so disappointed with this decision’.

However the council has taken the very adult approach and said its decision is based on safety concerns.

A council spokesperson said: ‘All our patrollers are trained to comply with the School Crossing Guidelines produced by Road Safety GB and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This requires that when crossing children over a road they need to remain static with one hand on their stick and the other stretched outwards. This ensures that they can be seen and effectively provide a visible barrier between school pupils and the traffic.

‘Their main role is one of road safety. This national guidance has been effective since 2012.’

International audiences are now voicing their support for Mr Mdikane through #savethehighfives on Twitter and a Facebook group with almost 12,000 likes.

Mr Mdikane told the BBC: ‘When I ask them what is the wrong that I did, they say “you are not concentrating on the traffic".'

He added that he was now ‘playing the game according to the rules’.

We must admit Transport Network is a stickler for road safety. However this is a sector where New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company is actually taking orders for the ‘world’s first practical jetpack able to be flown by a pilot or via remote control’, even though it could mean strapping a large combustion engine to your back.

Apparently there are some parts of the transport sector that never grow up. People will always want flying cars (despite the fact even the name sounds oxymoronic, emphasis on the moronic), hoverboards, jet packs and the humble lollipop man. And if he can't spread a little sunshine as he works, well, perhaps we should all just stay at home. Of course, ironically, that would make the kids happiest of all. 


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