Well I finally did it. I finally came out in public and asked for a free cup of coffee with my ScotRail Thrifty Club 50 card. To be honest, I only plucked up the courage as I was with my elderly parents-in law and thought that I may pass it off as one of theirs as I asked for three coffees and flashed the card so quickly, that he wouldn’t be able to see my jauntily angled, glamorous headshot beaming out at him from the blue plastic. Sadly, the coffee wasn’t worth waiting for, as annoyingly it was half the size of the other two, probably because, I surmised through gritted teeth, they think I may need frequent trips to the toilet if I consume a normal cup of coffee. And we wouldn’t want that would we madam, numerous fifty something’s queuing for the toilets and all hyped up on caffeine? We don’t want any trouble. Doubly annoying, was the fact that he handed it straight to me and not my mother-in-law, there wasn’t even a hint of hesitation which was another blow to the ego on top of the trainee in the hairdressers last week, asking if I preferred any particular magazine. Giving her a free rein to make a choice was not a good idea. No Elle, Marie Clare or Cosmo for me, she gave me bloody House Beautiful and Homes and Gardens, obviously to go with my greying hair. So depressing.
Anyway, when my Thrifty Fifty card arrived, it was accompanied by a nice little flyer which advertised the many benefits of admitting to being middle aged. Aside from the travel discounts and the miniature coffee, (but only one per journey Madam), the leaflet enticingly offered discounts on events, concerts and entrance to venues. T in the Park? The Hydro? Groove Inverness? Not a chance. Madam, you are a mature woman now, please show some decorum. It’s the National Trust, The Hampden Experience and classical concerts for you. You can groove if you want to my dear, as long as you stay in your seat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a stately home as much as the next person, but I’d rather be living in one than visiting and I’d obviously naively assumed that National Trust discount was more ‘Senior Railcard’ than ‘Nifty, thrifty, fifty’. I would love to meet the researchers behind the marketing, I wonder whether any of the team are over thirty?
As I write this, I am once again sitting on a train, this time heading to London Paddington from Oxford. You can tell it’s the South East as there are four carriages for First Class. Inverness Edinburgh has 8 seats if you’re lucky. Even the announcer sounds more like an airline pilot. I used to commute on this train every morning from Oxford to Reading, in the days when there were individual compartments with sliding doors, like the Harry Potter train for my younger readers,(if I have any), but without steam, (I’m not that old), or chocolate frogs. It was always warm and cosy with it’s under seat heaters, glorious on a cold winter morning when my feet were frozen to my eighties, synthetic stilettos. Sadly, while quicker, it is not quite as cosy on this train, in fact I am a tad chilly and there is no trolley and a train journey is just not the same without the trolley and it’s dodgy coffee, which is always too strong. Of course it’s not helped by the fact that two milk sachets, (the new cows udder shaped ones are mildly more manageable than playing Russian roulette with the mini long life milk cartons), are simply not sufficient. And no trolley also means that I don’t get the opportunity to grapple with my conscience again as I try to choose between a Kit Kat, Sour Cream Pringles or a packet of Kettle Chips. For the trolley, in my opinion is the highlight of a jaunt out of Inverness, a cosy accompaniment to the joy of gliding through the majestic beauty of the Scottish Highlands,a totally underrated service that brings happiness to many. Lord help the messenger who has to deliver the “No Trolley on this service” announcement to a train full of Highlanders on a day oot.
So, Scotrail Marketing team, you need to up your game. While I admit that the aforementioned rant and my admission that I’m turned on by the trolley service, may in fact indicate that I’m slowly turning into a fifty something grumpy old bag, I’m not quite ready for your depressing pigeon hole. I can still manage to drink a normal sized coffee without having to pee fifteen minutes later, I do not yet have grandchildren that I want to take to the Zoo and I would prefer a Cosmopolitan and a day out at the Spa than 2 for 1 tickets to The Scottish Maritime Museum. Fifty something I may be, ready for walking tours I am not.
Although if the 2 for 1 walking tour involved cocktail bars, I could possibly be persuaded.