Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Rite of Passage

"Some local authorities offer concessionary travel schemes which enable local residents who are elderly....."


So it's official!

I'm Elderly.

For my eighteenth, give or take a day or four, I got to leave home. For my twenty-first I got two non-steel screw-gate carabiners; for my twenty-fifth, a responsible job. Thereafter it's been downhill all the way. Forty came and went; it was, after all the new thirty, which still didn't help, I still can't remember it's significant memory attachment. Fifty must have happened, if only because sixty has now appeared and has allowed me to take delivery of a new plastic card. A special plastic card, one that, if you believe the attached information, will supplant all those other cards that you can never extract from your wallet. Opening the way to a whole plethora of opportunities. What it won't open is a jar of jam.

I have my National Entitlement Card.

Card for life : photo for life. Oh blast!

I've moved away from that unique specimen and joined the ranks of the masses. No longer that oddity, the solitary passenger who fumbles for coinage to acquiesce with the bus company's latest surprise fare hike. No longer required to raid the darkest recesses of jacket pockets or purchase an unnecessary newspaper so as to collect correct change for the exact bus fare. Now I state my destination and take a ticket, having proffered that treasured card so I can obviate the necessity for donating to the company's profits. Now, if I travel towards Edinburgh and alight in the vicinity of Meadowbank, the assumption has be Destination Mecca Bingo, although to be completely assimilated, the Unelderly, (she who will have to await a further 584 days before she can claim her elderly status symbol), will need to don a white cardigan and acquire a blue rinse bobble haircut. We will also need to be on nodding-acquaintance terms with every subsequent alighting passenger as the bus progresses towards the city.

It's the latest acquisition to my collection of those time-line rites of passage. First breath, first tooth, first step might lie in the pre-memory, but from the post-conscious eon come society's rituals, the tethers that cement you into place. Acquiring a driving licence. Quaffing a legal pint. Voting at an election. Tholing a job. Paying taxes. Buying a mortgage. Building a bicycle collection.

Now I'm an ordained, fully enrolled member of the 'concessionary traveller tribe'. I have my National Entitlement Card. I have my bus-pass. I have that wonderful incentive to bus-haul a folding bike to windward and then ride the tail-wind all the way home. I can go Brompton Bus-Passing.

Now all that is left on this degenerative slide to elderly-dom is to collect the next degradation. To proffer the evidence of claimed concessionary status, only to be moderately offended when told that it's not necessary as my wrinkles have already been counted.

Or for some spotty little oik on a crowded bus to offer me his seat.