HERE we go again. Roads blocked, traffic chaos, cars double parked and small children wandering into the road.

Yes, the school run’s back.

It’s annoying for anyone trying to get to work and doubly annoying for anyone living near a school who might find themselves blocked in by a parent’s car. Every school morning.

Do any children walk to school any more, or does that count as cruel and unnatural punishment?

What seems really weird is the illogicality of it. In a bid to deter mad gunmen, schools have, understandably, become fortresses. School trips, where they still exist, are a nightmare of health and safety and hi viz vests. Schools police lunch boxes to ensure children are eating healthily and anything remotely risky is banned, whether it’s British Bulldog or frilly socks (you could trip over them, apparently…)

Yet the more obvious and immediate danger on a daily basis - chaotic cars and hundreds of children in one small space at the beginning and end of the school day - is apparently quite acceptable. Doesn’t that seem strange to you?

Parents don’t let children walk to school because of the danger of traffic. Yet much of the traffic is parents driving their children to school…. And as schools get ever bigger, that danger zone round the school gates gets bigger too.

A survey by the AA recently found that around half of all child seats aren’t properly fitted, so even inside the car’s not desperately safe either.

Never mind the threat to their healthy from too little exercise. And that’s before they jump out into the traffic.

Around 1,000 children a week are hurt in accidents near the school gates.

Some schools and councils are doing their best to protect children, making more effort than some parents. Bollards looking like children – very weird, like an alien invasion - have been installed near a number of schools in the country. They might slow drivers down but are equally likely to freak them out.

Other council have turned roads near schools into restricted zones with automatic number recognition cameras. You need a permit to drive past or get fined £130. It seems a little extreme but that’s what it’s come too.

There’s no simple solution to the problem but as the school run start a new round of chaos it’s time for us to think hard about a better way of doing things. And to get our priorities sorted.

WHEN he was about seven years old, Smaller Son chose a winter jacket for school, that was bright pink. We didn’t realise he was ahead of the trend in being gender neutral. He just liked it and it kept him warm and that was all that mattered.

John Lewis’s new idea to label all clothes as “Girls and Boys” is probably daft. If nothing else it gives harassed parents twice as many racks to look through.

On the other hand, when the boys were small I would get very fed up of endless racks of boys’ clothes in deeply sludgey colours and either very militaristic, sporty or covered in cartoons. Why would anyone outside a war zone want to put a toddler in camouflage kit?

A generation later and I struggle to find anything for grand-daughters that isn’t pink or princessy which, admittedly they love, but it’s good to have a change.

We seem to have got very entrenched on the subject of children’s clothes – possibly because they all have so many more clothes than we ever had – so maybe, despite the mockery, John Lewis have the germ of a bright idea.

Some little boys like pink. Some little girls like dinosaurs. Is that really so difficult to deal with?

The Northern Echo: Dame Judi Dench, and such a good example. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

DAME JUDI DENCH, 82, looks amazing, has a filthy laugh, is the star of a major new film and has hinted that she still has a sex life.

Don’t you just want to be her when you grow up?

A NUMBER of teachers at some of the country’s top schools have left their jobs after they’ve been discovered to be “helping” their students get better exam grades.

We always thought the top public schools got better results because they had higher standards, smaller classes, more resources and better teaching.

Maybe they just had a better class of cheating too.

A NEW baby… Prince George starting school… 20 years since Diana’s death… Duke of Edinburgh’s retirement…. Camilla’s future title…Harry’s love life…

The Royal Family is a real life soap opera, complete with a few unreliable uncles and much more fun than dreary and oh so politically correct Coronation Street. No wonder we can’t get enough of them.

The only problem is that the reporting, especially by the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell, is always so respectful, deferential and almost religious – that reverential hush and awe when they do something as complicated as accepting a bouquet..

They’re celebrities! It’s a soap opera! Let’s give it some pzazz!

What we need is someone like Graham Norton as royal reporter. Now that would definitely make the world a brighter place.

I NEVER thought I’d enjoy a play about football, especially Sunderland football… I only went to see Cornered because husband needed a lift to South Shields.

But the play, a one-man show, about a mistake an 18-year-old Sunderland player, Dave Corner, made in a Wembley cup final and how it’s affected his life for more than 30 years since, was brilliant.

I never grasped the technicality but I loved the story and the performance – and the chat with the real Dave Corner at the end. Excellent.

Written by BBC Look North man Jeff Brown, it’s part of a double bill of Sunderland football plays. On at the Customs House, South Shields tonight, Durham Gala tomorrow. Details of more performances at