Even at the age of 10, I had a nasty suspicion that nothing in the grown-up world would quite compete with matching pen-pencil-rubber- purse sets. But the wait to reclaim childhood is over, for the word on the street - confirmed by this month's Vogue - is that Hello Kitty is back.

Kitty, the irresistibly cute Japanese pussycat with the huge red bow affixed to one ear, has transcended the pre-teen market at which she was aimed in the Seventies and Eighties, and is now a must-have for teens and twentysomethings in the know.

The opportunities for kitschness are limitless. Hair slides, mini make- up kits... the list goes on and on and the price goes up and up. For, like all retro chic, Kitty comes at price - pounds 4.50 for a flimsy plastic purse. How I wish I'd invested in more of the stuff when it was pocket-money price.

The difficulty of obtaining Kitty products has enhanced its cult appeal. Stocked only at the concession outlets of its Japanese manufacturer Sanrio at Harrods, Selfridges, Hamleys and Yaohan, it's small enough to ensure that demand outstrips supply to maintain its popularity.

But Sanrio has noticed a huge upsurge of interest in the past six months, especially from teenagers just old enough to start reminiscing. Not that it will reach the pinnacle of Kittydom achieved in Japan, where puss heads a billion-dollar industry, including her own theme park.

Should the news of a Kitty expansion into WH Smith dismay hardcore fans, don't despair. Sanrio boasts a host of other, less immediately loveable, characters, such as Pekkle the Duck, a streetwise, skateboarding waterfowl, and Bad Badtz-Maru, an apparently hungover penguin.

Perhaps a case of Goodbye Kitty, hello club style?