This morning, with impeccable timing, as I was about to go to work for the first time this year, my Freedom Pass arrived. At a stroke my expensive journey into London from beautiful Ruislip ceases to cost me a penny. Had legislation not recently changed, I might have received this invaluable piece of plastic when I turned 60 but alas, the qualifying age is up to nearly 61 and future generations will have to wait longer still.
There was something deeply satisfying when I first presented my gleaming new card to the yellow button on the entrance gate at the station, a bit like a flower breeder mating one rare orchid to another [eh?: Ed]. The tiniest of pauses while the system thought about it and then the magic moment when the gate opened. Yes, it worked. I have joined the ranks of the travelling pensioners, or whatever they call people of a certain age who can swan into a station or onto a bus any time they choose and go wherever they please and as often as they like and they can't touch you for it.
There are a few stations and bits of line I rather fancy visiting. Some of them because they are so distant, some because, well, quite frankly, it's hard to believe in them*. Upney. Canning Town. Mudchute. Penge. The eastern end of the Central. The southern bits beyond New Cross. My head tells me they exist but my heart says, Prove it! So one fine day in the near future I shall pack my thermos and my marmalade sandwiches, check that the Freedom Pass is ensconced [is this right? Researcher!: Ed] in the right-hand jacket pocket and the entire Tube system, not forgetting the Overground and the DLR, will await me.
*of course, I accept that the denizens of these benighted regions might feel the same way about some of the more obscure parts of the Metropolitan. Except that they would be wrong.