Jonathan Dodd‘s latest column. Guest opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication. Ed
The trouble with writing a blog is that sometimes you find your mind is filled with empty space and fluffy white clouds, just like my journey on the bus from Ventnor to Ryde this week.
Outside there was mist and low-lying cloud, and a fine light drizzle that obscured everything but the nearest buildings, and the windows were fugged-up with condensation, just the way I remember they used to be when I was a kid going to school so many years ago.
I could have been anywhere (within reason), and any time (at least in the last 50 years or so). I found this very comforting. A bus journey, like a good swim, can provide an excellent mental environment where the mind can roam free.
Bus pass guilt
Usually I drive to Ryde, but I don’t mind catching the bus. One thing I can’t get used to is that it’s supposed to arrive at 7:05am in Newport Road, and it invariably does. Everywhere else I ever needed to catch a bus involved getting there early and usually waiting, wondering if it was going to turn up at all. We’re lucky with our buses, apart from the price.
As with the ferries, I’m a great believer in subsidising public transport. We subsidise health services, and education, and libraries, so why not travel for those who either can’t run a car or who would prefer to catch a bus? In the morning I have to pay £4.50 for the 13-mile ride because my bus pass isn’t valid before 9:30am. Even so, I feel vaguely guilty when using my bus pass in the evening, because I don’t feel I’m old enough.
Can I still drink?
I’m reminded of how it was during my late teens. You go through a strange period where you can work, or have intimate relations with people, or even marry. You can join the army, but you can’t have a normal bank account or drink alcohol or vote. Or drive.
I now qualify for free bus travel and winter fuel allowance even though I still work. There’ll be other readjustments to come, some statutory and others imposed by companies. For instance, I notice that insurance and travel companies start getting interested in your age again, for hire cars or insurance, presumably to charge more or refuse you. I haven’t yet encountered any ageism at work, or even when trying to get work, but I suspect there’ll be some down the line.
Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?
When you’re younger, the single factor that most slows you down is lack of experience. How you’re supposed to get experience if nobody will let you gain it has always foxed me. In the same way companies I’ve worked for refuse to train their staff like they used to decades ago but they’re always moaning about the lack of trained people when they’re recruiting.
I suspect there comes a moment when you get too much experience, and you can’t compete for work because of that. Perhaps it clogs up the works like junk in your garage. Or perhaps experience has an invisible sell-by date. I’ve come to the conclusion that experience is something that has to be constantly updated.
Keep up or fall behind
When I was a kid there were lots of people who wanted to tell me how everything used to be, but hardly anyone was interested in what it was like for me, in that present, growing up. As a consequence I felt that I had to make it up as I went along, because the people who were supposed to help me didn’t have a clue.
I don’t actually know if I’m any use to the next generation or not. I do know I wouldn’t be if I just kept harping on about how things were in my past and failed to engage with the present at all.
If you don’t keep up you fall behind. The challenges are different, but who wants the same challenges all the time?
It was a productive bus journey after all!
If you have been, thank you for reading this.