What qualifies me is a list of 50 things in a survey to test maturity for which I scored 100%. Proud? You bet.
Written a will? Savings account? Knowing what ISA and “tracker” mean? Watching the news? Able to bleed a radiator? Joint bank account? A view on politics? Listening to Radio 2? Enjoying gardening? Wearing a coat on a night out? Wash up immediately after eating? Buying a Sunday paper? Work keeps me awake at night?
Ticked those, and all the others. About then I realised the survey was aimed at those slightly younger than me – “slightly” being approximately 30 years – but I let the glow of self-satisfaction persist.
Not least because most of the several thousand interviewed agreed that they didn’t feel grown up until they were at least 26. I still feel about that age. Self-delusion can be a wonderful daily tonic.
However, I noticed that other qualifications for adulthood were missing. Specifically, paying at the fuel pump without troubling the human in the kiosk and self-operated supermarket checkouts. Oh, and buying train or plane tickets from a machine.
Are my problems with the above generational or, let’s be frank, stupidity? In the case of train and plane and distrusting the machine, I can claim I don’t use them frequently enough to be familiar with the systems.
I do use – make that try to use – self-operated fuel payment and supermarket checkouts. Indeed, now I have the hang of it, I use my card to pay for fuel without the ignominy of the kiosk operator bawling across the forecourt about the need to register before the fuel will flow.
But try as I might, checking out my own supermarket purchases defeated me. Again, lack of practice had something to do with it as I only buy a few basics if I’m down the street anyway. Only milk, rolls, apples and cottage cheese, what could go wrong? Almost everything, until the machine started to whimper, narrowly beating me to it. The only comfort is that I’m not alone. That particular supermarket has now closed its self-operated checkout. I look forward to renewing human contact there, albeit at long intervals. I also recall that it took me some time to become familiar with the original revolutionary “hole in the wall” cash machines when I was, now I come to think of it, about 26.
• Last week Fordyce... was at a neighbour’s anniversary party, with a view from their garden of his house. Six people pointed out cheerfully that he had a slate missing – at least three of them meant from his roof.