Fashion fades fast. Think what one man did for the dressing gown, condemning millions to dump a practical garment for fear of looking sleazy, and for pyjamas with tops and bottoms actually matching.

The look hung in the balance of fate, teetered, then fell into the great fashion tip of stuff your mother made you wear when you were too small to fight back. Time is ruthless. It doesn't care.

Time gave us fat legs in miniskirts, men in caftans, beards and bare feet, topless swimming togs, and Hugh Hefner, who set a standard for tackiness that should die with that old playboy caricature.

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Obituaries, I guess, must acknowledge the service he did for schoolboys and lonely salesmen in motels.

But schoolboys grow up, meet real girls, get jobs, read books, and admit that cigars smell and taste disgusting.

And real women don't fall for that bull**** anymore, if they ever really did outside the pages of his magazine.

That Hefner thought cigars were sophisticated was revealing, just as all his cliched trappings of sophistication were; slinky dressing gowns open over hairy chests, silk pyjamas, cravats to hide wizened necks, loud, expensive sports cars, the kind only old men can ever afford, and the paid company of pretty women falling out of tight clothes who other men thought were pretty too.

As if that ever meant anything.

He was a wrinkly atoll adrift from civilisation, like those barren islands where centuries ago ships left animals to breed and feed the next lot of shipwreck survivors.

Time had raced by well before he drew his last gasp, a 91-year-old who lived a life so bleak you shook your head in wonder that this was the best he could do.

It was a sitcom really. He thought women were the butt of the joke, which was the funniest thing about it.

Just now we're in a time when men, not women, play hard to get, especially in politics, the national dating show where marriages of convenience are forged.

Former prime minister Jim Bolger has urged the Greens to join up with National to form a government without Winston Peters, but the prospect of power, usually deemed an aphrodisiac, just leaves them limp and apathetic.

It is mysterious why anybody would enter politics to be in permanent opposition.

The problem is a new kind of puritanism, unlike the old sexual one Hefner kicked against.

The Greens are too pure to sully themselves with the vulgar cut and thrust of power and compromise, and according to James Shaw triumph when bits of their policies creep into law without their help, and with other people credited for it.

How feeble from a party that only just managed to crawl back after Metiria Turei's clanger about defrauding welfare, but which could be in government if it woke up.

Hefner was keen to bend a new sexual morality to his cause, and people fluttered round him as some do Turei, admiring her for being honest about her dishonesty. They have a point.

At least she didn't offer any fashion tips. And to think I nearly voted for them.

In Dunedin last weekend some of the nation's potential future leaders were busy with Lord of the Flies exercises, the kind of games kids get up to without adult supervision. They won't be squeamish when it comes to the mud-slinging of life.

An initiation party for new students got out of hand - or was exposed - after someone urinated on a person who also had what appeared to be vomit poured over him. No doubt there were squeals of delight from girls watching. There usually are.

Silk pyjamas can't hide the primitive in human beings, and it leaps out when kids are drunk and peer pressured, but for some reason it's not serious when students - children of the middle class - do it in a town that relies on the education business to survive.

Gang members - children of the deprived - get locked up for less.

And so it is with people in white collar jobs who get short sentences for stealing from the taxpayer and contaminating the workplace by grooming others to share the booty.

Former Ministry of Transport manager Joanne Harrison admitted stealing $725,000 and got a soft three years and seven months' sentence, while we're now told those who helped her will not be charged. Like a whiff of cigar smoke in a playboy's bedroom, that leaves a nasty smell.

Rosemary McLeod is a journalist and author.