This is not remotely funny but, recently, it happened. It was a brisk and chilly winter's day in St Andrews, where Daughter No 2 has decided to take up the game of gowf. She had been telling me how her lesson was progressing, how her swing was developing nicely and her ability to hit the ball forwards was getting exponentially greater.
So we stepped out of the biting wind and into the relatively warm confines of the driving range, where we paid our dues, collected our weaponry and headed to the mats and began despatching balls.
I couldn’t help noticing that, far from honing her skills, my companion was sitting on a bench having a little smirk and a laugh to herself. Perplexed – this was her idea – I challenged her as to why she wasn’t up on the range beside me. “The man,” she giggled, pointing to the little office where the attendant takes the payments, “gave you the pensioners’ rate. Hilarious.”
Now a multitude of emotions and questions welled up in me. Indignantly, I contemplated marching up to the office, whipping off the bunnet and the high-collared jacket that was obscuring my youthful features and demanding to pay more. Then I thought, ‘Sod it, a discount's a discount, particularly in St Andrews’, not one of Scotland’s least expensive towns. I pulled my bunnet tighter so I wouldn’t be challenged on the way out and continued thrashing the golf balls in my basket.
But now the thought has been planted. Even though I am far from pensionable age – honest – I’m beginning to fantasise about the perks of being an elder citizen. Golf is a case in point. I pay full fees to my golf club while pensioners get massive discounts, even though they are the ones who can play four times a week while I am lucky if I can get in one round a fortnight.
Then there’s those legendary free bus fares. Even though I hardly ever use the bus, I’d still like to know that if I want to use them I’ll be able to travel for nothing. It’ll be useful, anyway, for if grandchildren come along. A neighbour recently took her wee son for his first bus ride and he was positively ecstatic about the experience. I haven’t seen a smile that wide since Daughter No 1 got a genuine Mulberry handbag for her 21st birthday.
Cosmetic surgery and hair dye notwithstanding, I am just going to have to accept that, occasionally, some people, obviously with defective eyesight, are going to make a tragic mistake about my age. I’m happy about that, but only if it works to my benefit. n