Happy Birthday To Me! By Trevor Plumbly
On the morning of September 18th 2006, I rose out of bed a little more tentatively than normal. I was now 65 years old and it was time for a bit of a stock take. A glance in the mirror confirmed hair loss, teeth intact and the basics of the old chiselled features discernible, dimly, but nevertheless discernible. Sadly that didn’t extend south. The beer, pies and fish and chips had sent in their account and my waistline had paid in full. Turning sideways I drew in a deep breath in an attempt to minimise the visual effect, but sucking on fags for 45 odd years doesn’t really equip you for holding deep breaths for too long. Vanity dissuaded me from further assessment. Shit! I was a bloody pensioner! Such a day required some attention to one’s attire; ‘refined retiree’ was the goal. More Leonard Cohen than Mick Jagger. Suitably clad, I checked my wallet and there it was… the GOLD CARD! This little beauty gets me free travel, no more fumbling around for change, no more scowls from drivers, one flash of this baby and I could march on as if I owned the bus and its bloody miserable driver.
Faced with the magic card, the bus driver displayed the same disinterest he showed to all passengers. Bugger it! This was my first day as a senior citizen; I’d done my share and it was time to bask a bit, surely he could spot that and act accordingly? I almost strode off in righteous indignation before remembering that pensioners don’t stride, they use a sort of cautious glide (note to self, practise cautious glide). As the day wore on I discovered that the GOLD CARD! wasn’t the badge of honour it was touted to be. The librarian was unmoved, the doctors’ surgery didn’t recognise it and there was no trace of those window signs guaranteeing me a 10% discount that the brochure promised. All-in-all, it was a frustrating introduction to retirement age. Disillusioned I wandered home, (practising my cautious glide). The birthday boy who had left humming “Hallelujah” had transmogrified into a grumpy old git fingering a gold card and mumbling “I can’t get no satisfaction”.