Saga of My Bus Pass part one
The saga of my bus pass begins in the now sleepy seaside town of Barry in South Wales. I happens to be my home town, and I returned to live there with my Thai wife of fifteen years in June 2018. I am now sixty-four years of age, so I have been qualified for a bus pass for four years.
However, I have lived in Thailand and Spain for most of the last fifteen years, so I didn’t bother to apply for one. I was soon to wish that I had started the application process earlier. From my first few days home, friends were extolling the virtues of the bus pass – one even called it ‘his best friend’.
A bus pass removes the restrictions on mobility that are imposed by a shortage of money, which a lot of older people experience despite what the media would have the youth believe about wealthy, greedy pensioners propping up the price of houses. Who are these pensioners going to leave their houses to, for God’s sake?!
Anyway, my bus pass… so, I went down to the local council offices and asked at the Information Desk.
A very large, but young woman, asked me what I wanted as she dabbed at the perspiration apparent on every inch of bare skin. I told her and she slid a form towards me, which I took, filled in and handed back.
“I cannot accept that without proof of eligibility”, she said with a strange look of satisfaction. “Proof of date of birth, a utilities bill, and a signature from your doctor”.
“I don’t have a doctor, and since I’m renting a room and have only been here for three days, I don’t have a utility bill either… I will probably never get one either”.
“That’s your problem”, she said and proceeded to ignore me.
I walked to the nearest doctor’s surgery, registered, and then took the council form to the ‘Buccaneer’ pub to think about it. An hour later, I phoned the surgery for an appointment for a check up.
“August 14th., 8:15? Does that suit you?” I was asked by a cheerful receptionist.
“Well, it’s six weeks away, on my birthday, and a bit earlier than I was hoping to have to get up”, I said light-heatedly.
“September…” he started. I interrupted him and agreed to the August appointment.
When the day came, the check-up fell way below my expectations, but that is another story, to continue my bus pass saga, the doctor refused to sign it.
“I am not here to validate your age or place of residence”, he retorted rather angrily.
“But the local council said…”
“Hearsay”, he cut me off. “If the local council want me to sign anything, they can write to me here!”
My birthday had not started well, and it set the tone for the day.
A week later, I went back to the local council, where the grumpy fat lady had been replaced by a friendly young man. I handed him the form.
“Confirmation, please, sir”.
I passed him the letter from the doctor confirming my appointment and my passport. They were sufficient, so he scrutinised the form.
“You need to get your doctor to sign this where the box has been marked with a cross”.
“He won’t do it, unless you ask him officially. Perhaps, he’s looking for a fee…” I quipped.
“All doctors sign these firms, take it back to him and tell him…”
“No”, I interjected. “I will not be the shuttlecock between you both. Here is my application for a bus pass”.
He took it. “This will be rejected”, he said glumly. “My advice is to change your doctor… it really is common practice for them to sign these forms…”
I received a rejection letter from the council today, which stated that I should return the form to my doctor for his signature. I’ll send that off tomorrow and let you know how I get on later.
And if you’re wondering why I don’t just take it to the doctor, I don’t want another six-week wait.
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All the best,
Podcast: Saga of My Bus Pass part one