Friday, 2 May 2014

Senior Moments



I forgot to say, I had a remarkable landmark experience last week.

When we got to the head of the short queue, the young woman selling entry tickets for Stokesay Castle went through her usual, well-polished spiel: entrance is so much, with reductions for seniors and under-18s, and membership for a whole year is a mere so much -- have you considered membership? No? -- and a printed guide is so much, but the recorded tour is free.  I started to count out the cash, when it struck me.  No, wait!  How old is a senior?

Sixty? Bingo!

I grabbed back and rapidly started recounting the cash.  My very first senior concession!  Amusingly and endearingly, the Prof -- who is young in appearance but an infamous tightwad -- was visibly conflicted.

It is a conflicting thing, this crossing of the threshold that leads, inexorably, to the great anti-climax that is Old Age.  There's a nice piece by Jenny Diski in the London Review of Books which is worth reading (anything by Jenny Diski is worth reading, I think).  It's a wry meditation on ageing, framed as a book review, that is several cuts above the usual "You know you're getting old when..." routines.  I'm sure she's right in predicting an upcoming deluge of "How to Be Old" books, written by boomers for boomers.  Worse, these books will all be tainted with that neoliberal, hippyish optimism that insists that all negative experiences are, at root, an attitude problem, and probably a consequence of a bad diet.  That the infirmities of age and, ultimately, death itself, are lifestyle choices.

10 comments:

John Krill said...

I'm surprised that it only took 60 to qualify as a senior. Over here in America with baby boomers entering the senior ranks the age keeps slowly rising.

I don't know what the minimum is any longer since I long ago entered the ranks of the senior.

The famous one is Social Security. They're wanting to raise the age once again.

Mike C. said...

Same here. People here in the UK talk of "getting your bus pass" when reaching 60, as many local authorities would issue free bus passes at that age. No more, apparently -- it's a privilege that has either been removed or deferred to a later age.

Mike

Zouk Delors said...

I phoned for a bus pass on my 60th birthday, to be told I had to wait another five years and three months too do. he did wish me a happy birthday, though.

Mike C. said...

Same or similar here. I quote:

"The age at which both men and women qualify for their bus pass is the state pensionable age of a women [sic]."

Mike

Martin Hodges said...

It'll only be a matter of time before someone tells you that retirement is not a destination, but a journey!

Mike C. said...

Martin,

True. I've a feeling I know the destination of that journey, but everyone will be too tactful to mention it until we get there...

Last train to San Fernando!

Mike

Martyn Cornell said...

In London, thanks to BoJo, you still get a bus/tube/train pass at 60, though there are early morning restrictions on train usage. It still probably saves me £1,000 a year, at least. I should probably apply for a rail pass as well - I do about one long-distance rail journey for work a month on average - but as my employer pays for those I CBA.

Mike C. said...

Martyn,

That is certainly quite a saving. I find the problem with buses in London is that I can never tell when to get off. Though I suppose when one finally gets on the "Destination: Styx" service, it's going to be pretty unambiguous. I wonder if the Oyster Card covers an obol for the boatman?

Mike

Martyn Cornell said...

Increasingly, buses in London have a nice electronic young lady on board who announced what the next stop is going to be - sat-nav powered, I assume. But if you have Google Maps turned on on your phone, you can see where you are anyway ...

Mike C. said...

Martyn,

I miss bus conductors -- "Tickets, please!" I always wanted one of those complicated ticket machines they wore attached to a leather harness.

Mike