BLAISE TAPP: Even in the 21st century, you can't beat old-fashioned playtime

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock
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There cannot be many of us who won't be going away at some point during August.

After all, what is this month for if we don't dig out shorts so old that they have been in and out of fashion at least twice, or recover the sat nav from its natural home of the glove box?

There aren't many blokes who admit to using the device, as it is seen as direct challenge to our masculinity, but in August their use appears to be mandatory – a combination of us all wanting to avoid spending any longer than we really have to in our comically overloaded people carriers.

This is the month nearly everybody writes off – our favourite radio shows are presented by people we haven't heard of, nearly every news reporter opts to leave their tie at home and we are left to wonder, more than we usually do, who is really running our country.

This month is traditionally known as the height of Silly Season – a time of year when it is perceived that very little happens but try telling that to journalists who, over the years, have covered momentous August events such as the deaths of both Elvis Presley and Princess Diana, and countless major tragedies and disasters.

Of course, for the past week the world has been on the edge of its collective sofa, as the name-calling between the ridiculous leaders of the USA and North Korea has reached the point where it is enough to put anybody off their BBQ lunch.

To be honest, rather than impending armageddon, it has been summer playtime which has been dominating proceedings in our house this month.

Like many 21st century kids, my offspring are, sadly, strangers to the joys of getting up to mischief on the pavements outside of the family home.

Wind the clock back three or four decades, before stranger danger and rat runs became embedded in the public consciousness, playing out before and after tea were the law.

Every street had its own favourite game – ours was kerby, which involved throwing a scuffed leather football from one side of the road to another with the soul aim of bouncing it off the opposite kerb. Hours of fun.

Few children today will ever experience the joys of kerby and I think the world is a poorer place for it.

Which is why, during a break in Cornwall last week, I was so keen that my own children got away from the screens which so dominate the lives of most youngsters and discover the joy of making new friends over Swingball or messing about on borrowed scooters.

Normal bedtimes fell by the wayside as deadlines for coming indoors were persistently pushed back, but we didn’t really mind because watching your children enjoy playtime is one of the greatest pleasures there is.

Last week, a man who was once one of Britain’s leading spooks when he ran GCHQ, suggested that parents shouldn’t feel guilty if their children spend too long online this summer as he believes the skills they learn in front of screen could help the country in the long run.

He couldn’t be more wrong: I don’t know about you, but I have never made a meaningful relationship online. In my book, kerby wins every time.