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by Jan Fossgärd

What did I ever do to deserve it? My lovely garden, my beautiful (and in some cases, expensive) plants, my manicured lawn, have been annexed by my neighbours' children for Pokemon trading.

I thought I was unlucky to have three kids in the house on one side and extremely unlucky when another three-kid family moved in on the other side too. And then came Pokemon. Since then, looking out of my kitchen window to enjoy the garden in all its summer glory, there are the children from both sides, an endless stream of children, darting backwards and forwards across the lawn dealing Pokemon cards.

Ah, joyful summer.

I'm not one of those hypocritical adults who is entirely convinced that his own childhood was a world of angelic innocence. I mean, I do remember being a child. I remember the ruses, the 'games', what we called 'fun', which inevitably involved some form of wanton destruction or merciless punishment. Yes, I remember it all. The fires, the setting off of bangers outside the local chapter of the Exclusive Brethren, tying up my best friend in the cellar. But all this seems like a bit of honest fun compared with the Pokemon mania that has gripped the children of the early twenty-first century.

In the name of journalism, I asked the children next door what Pokemon cards were.

But all six children from both sides spoke at the same time. From this dissonant cacophony of answers, I inferred that Pokemon must be a complex business. When I asked to have a look at the cards, six little bundles of grubby cards, held together by rubber bands, were brought forward. I flicked through one bundle. Unlike the football stickers that were the craze in my own day, these cards were covered with information, weird pictures, strange names.

Pokemon characters are more like the Marvel comic superheroes, just much, much weirder, with names like Pikachu ('he's yellow and white, I like him') and T-rocket ('that has a number on their T-shirt. Do you know what number he has?'). I was told that one character was the son of another. So Pokemon is a dynasty? 'What's a dynasty?' I gave a teacherly explanation, but their concentration span does not stretch beyond Pokemon cards.

A few days later, I realised just how serious is the Pokemon phenomenon, when I read about a child who was mugged for a Pokemon. There followed reports of young victims being mugged at gunpoint for a fistful of Pokemons. Forget Euros, never mind the pound, Pokemon is the new currency.

I began to have visions of the children having a big scrap on my lawn and drowning in the pond, then me being sued. So, after putting it off for years on the grounds that it was unsociable, I decided a fence had to go up after all and ordered thirty metres of 6-foot close-board fencing, the strongest type, plus half a tonne of concrete in which to set the posts.

Now the fence is finished I am planning to sit back and enjoy a Pokemon-free summer. The garden will be a haven of tranquillity, untroubled by the evil of Pokemon. There will be the gentle plashing from my garden water feature, the twittering of birds, the familiar sights and sounds. All will be as it once was Before Pokemon (BP). That is, until they discover the honest pleasures of anarchy and destruction. Ah, I remember them so well


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