66 – the start of the Bus Pass Years

Today I went to a Council Office in town, showed the required documents to prove that I’m sixty-six and that I live here, got my picture taken and was issued with a laminated Pensioner’s Bus Pass on the spot. It’s not called a Pensioner’s Bus Pass. It’s called a Diamond Travelcard. I’m not sure why. You can’t have one unless you’re sixty-six and if you are sixty-six, you get one for free so I can’t see what diamonds have to do with it.

Anyway, the person issuing the card was friendly and helpful without treating me like I was likely to become confused or assuming that I would have difficulty hearing her. I used my shiny (and still warm) card to travel the mile or so up the hill to my house, just for the novelty of it.

As I sat on the bus, looking at the card, it occurred to me that this little piece of plastic was ushering me into a new phase in my life: THE BUS PASS YEARS.

I entertained myself with visions of intrepid explorations by bus (starting after 09.00 of course) carrying a flask of coffee and a packet of sandwiches and planning my route to make sure there were sufficient toilet stops along the way. I wondered if the rural buses are full of old people Diamond Travelcard holders escaping to the country and whether they band together or just nod at one another or avoid making eye contact so that they can pretend not to be old people Diamond Travelcard holders travelling for free.

As you can see, I still think of Old People as if they are a group that I recognise but which I’m not really a part of. I think a lot of us must think that way. After all, you can buy the sentiment of a t-shirt these days.

Is this I’m the same age except I’m not old feeling self-delusion or is it that the Old People that we imagine dress and behave the way our parents did when they got old and not the way our generation of iPhone-using, headphone-wearing, backpack-carrying generation does?

Or maybe it’s just that there’s a lag between knowing something and feeling something.

I know that I’m sixty-six. I know that places me in the oldest 15% of the population. I know that I’m in decline physically and mentally and that only the rate of that decline is yet to be established. I know that, on average, I have another 17-20 years to live and that for the last five to ten of those, I’m likely to be frail. I know that, when I look in the mirror, I see a sixty-six-year-old man who his younger self would struggle to recognise.

I’m just not feeling it yet.

I don’t feel young but I don’t feel impaired yet either. Even so, that ‘yet’ has more teeth than it used to.

In my planning and decision-making I tend to give more weight to knowledge than feeling but, if I get my planning right, my day-to-day experience is all about how I feel.

So, I’m going to embrace my Bus Pass Years as a chance to focus on the things that please me, while I still can.

Wordsworth is not a favourite poet of mine but he has a verse that captures most of what I’m thinking of here. He wrote:

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!

from ‘My Heart Leaps Up’ by William Wordsworth

Rainbows don’t make my heart leap (maybe because I’m colour blind or maybe I just lack the hippie gene). My heart prefers good books, good food, good movies, and travelling to new places with my wife. When/if I can no longer enjoy those things, I’ll admit to being truly old.

3 thoughts on “66 – the start of the Bus Pass Years

  1. My mother had the fortune to live in Scotland, where she received a bus pass at age 60. It allowed her to travel *around the entire country*. Every few days, she’d call me up and tell me what new place she’d visited that day, and full of, “I got chatting to another old lady on the bus…” Definitely a new lease of life for her, and she very comfortably slotted herself into the “little old lady” demographic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that story. Curiosity, new places and new contacts all add spice to life. I’ve never had the knack of just ‘getting chatting’ to someone on the bus. A combination of travelling a lot for business and my natural introversion has led me to develop a habit of acting as though I am alone or invisible when I travel. I think that’s something that I’ll have to change. Perhaps I can slot myself into to an ‘approachable, harmless older guy’ demographic.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s