Settled onto the 7.54 Nairn to Inverness train, en route to Glasgow for the February Scottish Screenwriters meet, I casually handed over my ticket to the conductor. "Have you got your Club 50 card" he asked chirpily "as you don't look old enough"
Result!! I haven't had to hand over ID since I failed to get into the Witney Football Club friday night disco in 1979. Delighted, I rummaged for my card. "You've made my day" I replied beaming, "Thank you very much"
"Well you don't look old enough" he continued, "honestly, you could take at least two years off."
Now that's where he spoilt it, as 'two years' sort of took the edge of it. Five would have been better but I consoled myself with the fact that if I added the two years to the three years I was over the limit, that equated to five years. Beggars cant be choosers, I said to myself, take the two years and be grateful.
And I would like to report that that was it, but sadly it wasn't. I don't really blame myself. When you buy train tickets these days, instead of one return ticket, you end up with five or six, one for each leg of the journey, tickets for seat reservations and a receipt. And they all look the same. So I could be forgiven for embarrassing myself at the Inverness barrier, by trying to insert my seat reservation instead of my ticket and holding up the queue. Unfortunately, the aforementioned guard happened to be behind me and as a training exercise to his young assistant, I patiently suffered the humiliation of him trying to explain the ticketing situation to me as though I was his eighty year old mother. It was even more humiliating when he helpfully marked the correct ticket for me so I wouldn't get confused again at the next barrier.
Now, if I hadn't been so mortified at being given a granny lecture, I might have actually paid attention to what he was saying, which may have spared me the further trauma of having to ask another guard to fish my ticket out of the recycling bin ten minutes later after trying to cull the number of tickets from my pocket. If I had been paying attention, I wouldn't have thought that the scribbled on card was the correct one and not the dead one.
"Please don't tell the other guard I just did that" I begged the young assistant as I finally made it through the barrier, dreading any further lectures or worse sympathy. "Don't worry" he said sweetly, probably thinking silly old bat. I could tell he was trying not to laugh.
So there you have it 48 to 84 in the space of ten minutes. How the mighty fall!