Rite of Passage?
It happened on the Piccadilly Line on the London Underground. I was on my way to Chelsea to view, finally, the paintings by my one of my chosen artists who are going to figure in the End of Module Assignment which takes the place of a final examination in my Art History course.
The train was crowded and travelling from King’s Cross to South Kensington (to change to the Circle and District line for Sloane Square) is a fair old way and, as I had done more than my fair share of walking – and I have proof of that via my smartwatch – I was eagle eyed for any vacated seat.
Some of the more popular stations along the route failed to get bums off seats and it was a way into my journey that, finally, I saw a seat. I moved towards it, but not as quickly as a little old lady who positively jumped into the place and then looked steadfastly ahead ignoring my pathetically pleading expression!
I therefore found myself in the body of the train rather than near an exit and I disconsolately hung from a pole and contemplated the long walk I would have when I got to my destination, an effort potentially unrefreshed by any sitting.
Then, a young guy looked up at me and asked, “Would you like a seat?” To which I replied, “Yes, thank you!” And sat down. The first time in my life that someone has given up a seat. A stage in my life has obviously been reached. And this before my offical state retirement age? Only by months, but still!
So that’s it. I must be officially old! And, yes, I did check to see whether the gesture on the part of the young man was one modifed by the fact that he might have been getting out at the next stop. He wasn’t and he didn’t. It was a true altruistic motivation as a concession to my deprepitude!
Well, I will learn from this revelatory moment and in future I shall look fixedly at anyone under the age of 40 (male or female) with the expectation that even if they do not give up their seats for me, they will feel guilty about not so doing!
“I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled!” I am not sure that is the exact TS Eliot quotation, but I am now living the verse and I will soon be joing Prufrock and singing the love song!
All of which is by way of saying that I feel a bit of a fraud. I am not as old as either my grandparents or my parents were at my age – if you see what I mean. I am a baby boomer (leading edge) and all of us have made a contract with fate and the NHS to live for ever and follow Jenny Joseph’s advice to live disgracefully and wear purple, or the metaphorical equivalent.
Still, I was grateful for the seat and my thanks go out to the young man for showing that chivalry is not dead and to his parents for training him to believe it!
I am typing this is the Smallest Hotel Room in the World Which Still Can Call Itself En Suite and I will be quite happy to leave it in a few minutes or so and make my way to the Camden Centre where we European OU Students will congregate in our Tutor Group for our final get together. This time face to face rather than via the uneven experience of the Internet.
I am not sure what form the day is going to take as each of us will have very different requirements for our final project.
I suppose that it will be interesting to see what other people have decided to do and any advice or suggestions about how to bring the course together via our chosen artist will be interesting as well. Its final usefulness will only be appreciated when the day is over and my panic levels have either lessened or increased to full on Chaos is Over the Hill-tra-la!
Being an incorrigible optimist I fully expect to be enthused by being with fellow students who have chosen (and paid handsomly) to experience the delights of studenthood – and it this course at a fairly high academic level.
Time to go and see!