Friday, 21 November 2008

The Age When Life Begins?

It's just after nine in the morning and I'm sat in a dealership in Sheffield doing some paperwork while I wait for someone from sales to check a car in for me.

Last week I wrote about being stuck at Colchester station and not minding because so many other people were stuck there too. Yesterday I found myself there again. I had dropped a car off in Southend on Sea and had to make my way to a compound at an old airfield near the village of Great Wenham, about ten miles from Colchester. Basically this involved a train from Southend to Colchester and then a bus ride. I had asked the office to give me something towards the £13 train fare. Such requests are prone to unpredictable results. Often you will get half the fare, sometimes you will get all of it, and occasionally you will get nothing but an accusation of greed or even blackmail thrown back at you. I was therefore surprised when they immediately offered me the whole fare.

I arrived at Colchester station and then set off to walk into town for the bus, putting my train ticket in the barrier at the station exit and watching it disappear. I vaguely regretted this as it would be one less ticket to include in my tax return at the end of January. I never for one moment remembered that I would also need it to claim the fare back from the office, even though they had only agreed to do this about an hour ago.

At various times throughout the rest of the day I would remember that I was due this fare back and would feel rather happy for a few moments.

It is only this morning while I'm sat in this dealership in Sheffield, tidying up my paperwork, that it has occurred to me that I won't be able to claim the fare back. I have known all along that I didn't have the ticket and also known that I would need it, but have never until now combined these two facts to produce a conclusion.

The problem with all of this is that I turn forty next week and am finding it hard not to see such cerebral lapses as part of an inevitable mental decline.

My next collection is only half a mile from here and I set off to walk. This part of Sheffield seems to be mainly populated by university students, mostly young women full of casually dressed confidence. I walk past a couple locked in a tight embrace and kissing with what seems to me to be a deliberate noisiness. It's only nine thirty in the morning for fuck's sake. I am getting old.

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