Josephine, my friend and colleague, thinks I am too negative. She is right. (See, I can agree with someone every now and then.) So, in order to prove that the exception makes the rule, here is an attempt at a more light-hearted, positive disquisition. And it all has to do with the cold weather, which I am finding rather enjoyable for reasons that are Not Safe for Work.
I recently made the rather soft-headed decision to shift houses. Soft-headed because by previous abode was tiled and never had water problems. It was blessedly near everything of social value: bus-stop, bank/ATM, supermarket, church, the barber, the chemist/pharmacist and a rather cozy bar (that had reserved section for very non-social, unsociable smokers like yours truly.) But after almost a decade in the same house, it was time to move on to a new one where new relationships would be forged and, quite crucially, old habits would (hopefully) be discarded, and new ones adopted (the jury is still out on the success of the latter and the failure of the former.) Soft-headed also, because all I did was to add an additional 100 metres, as the crow flies, to my treks to the aforementioned bus-stop, ATM, supermarket, church, barber, chemist and bar (in reality, more like 200 metres, taking to account the frenzied, fevered erection of walls and barriers in my general area of residence.)
Enough of the soft-headedness of this author, though. What was heartening, as soon as I had settled in to take notice of my new surroundings, is that my estate (that's what we call them this side of the Queen's English) is rather demographically young. Many (I'd say a majority) of my neighbours are young couples, married or living in sin, with young children, some of school-going age. There seems to be a permanent cohort of older married couples with children either in mid-primary school or in secondary school. But that is not the heartening part. What is heartening is that the balance of children in the estate seems to favour those of the feminine gender, or girls, to be less politically correct (besides, I do not think any of them is interested in whether or not they can "choose" their genders at this stage.)
It is fascinating. When I was a boy (some ladies who are dear to me would argue I still am) the meagre supply of bicycles-as-toys was reserved almost exclusively for the boys in our estate; girls had to beg, and wait their turn, for a ride on those contraptions we were so proud of. I always felt faintly guilty that my thrilling rides always came at the delayed thrills of some of my friends (but as a child, I refused to let the guilt prevent me from enjoying myself to the maximum.) I don't know why, but I am thrilled (there's that word again) that the wheels have come full circle and now it is girls who determine whether or not boys get to have fun, and how much fun they get to have. And these are not girlie-girls either. They all seem to have adopted a jeans-and-t-shirt fashion that is tom-boyishly homogenous, and if it was not for the explosion of pinks and light blues and reds, one would almost think that they were boys. Thank God none of them has acquired a taste for those plastic ballet shoes that I see on the feet of otherwise sensible looking adult females; their shoe-sense seems determined to keep the makers of Bata Bullets in business for the next decade or so.
And the self-confidence in their eyes is sometimes a little scary and intimidating. They are not shy at staring you in the eye, even if you are an adult whose air supply is being constricted by a too tightly tied neck-tie. They will not simply move out of the way because you wish to pass. They will not pipe down simply because that Friday's overindulgence has come back to bite you in the ass. They will not place their feelings on hold so that they can accommodate the rather fragile ones of the few boys that dare to play at their level. If these girls grew up to be politicians, they'll accomplish a great deal more than the like of The Hairdo and her retinue of fellow-failures-cum-flower-girls. That is why I think we will be alright in the end.