I am facing a Night Out. I've had two of these in the year since we moved to London: Dolly Parton live with a visiting vicar and chicken korma with the ladies from the choir. But this night out is different. It's in the city centre with a glamorous ex-colleague, whom I've not seen in the decade since we bore babies. And I am worried.

I am worried about the parting from my friendly tartan sofa rug and my Primark slouchers. I am worried that every outdoor garment I possess is made of tweed or pilled wool. I am worried that I will not manage opinions on the Greek bail-out and the obesity crisis with an intellect shrunken by Balamory. And I am worried that the Vicar will forget to put the bins out. Above all, though, I am worried that I am so worried.

I pull on my edgiest cable-knit and I buff up my spectacles and I am a scuttling woolly figure reflected in shop windows. But when I breathe the thick brothy air of the Underground I am energised. I stride to the ticket barriers feeling a girl-about-town and tap my ticket into the slot with the flair of a seasoned commuter.

Except that I've forgotten that you no longer tap tickets in slots; you swipe Oyster cards on pads. And I've forgotten that the blue of my Oyster card is the same blue as my debit card. And I've fed the debit card into the slot and it hasn't come out again.

I seek out a ticket inspector. I am relieved that he is young and good-looking and that I am a blonde girl-about-town. 'What were you thinking?' he marvels, whipping a screw driver from his trousers. 'It must have been something very exciting!' I say, and I discover that I am simpering.

He thrusts opens the slot and prises my card from clenched metal jaws and I stand there trying to look ornamental. And then I glimpse my woolly reflection in a glass barrier. I realise that it's not gallantry he's directing at a beguiling young blonde; it's pity for a befuddled middle-aged matron. And I stride onwards, trying to walk tall, but I don't feel a girl-about town any more: I want my tartan rug.


  1. I would much rather have a tartan rug than a night on the town - in fact, perish the thought! I haven't done a night out for years and I don't think I ever will again. Evenings for me are at home; Amy and the Farmer and a nice warm house.

    CJ xx

  2. And a DVD of back episodes of Downton Abbey. I do agree, Crystal! Shan't do it again.

  3. Absolute genius - really made me giggle...

    Nights in are the new "nights out" for us middle aged ladies!!!

  4. The Oyster card incident made me giggle.
    I was back in London in the summer after years away abroad, baffled by the serve yourself ticket machines, so queuing at the hole in the wall ticket sales office.
    There a young man explained very patiently about all my options for getting to Kensal Rise and sold me an Oyster Card..which I then attempted to ram into the slot on the gates....only be rescued by another kind young man who said
    'No, swipe it...'

    The next day I had my hair cut and coloured.

  5. You've outdone me, Ms Fly! I ought to know better. But it's years since my commuter days and old habits die hard. Am nervous of hair dye but next time I'll wear my contact lenses.

  6. I'm with you. *clutches tartan rug more tightly and tucks it in round knees*

  7. i find gin makes these nights possible now, lots of gin.

  8. Well, I did have a fortifying lager, Northernmum, but that was after I reached my destination. If I'd had gin beforehand, heaven knows what I'd have stuck in that slot!

  9. A post many will empathise with and please can I have your tartan rug by the way. Signed of course.
    When I went out recently, my husband steered me round clearly believing I was not safe to be let out.
    I too felt young again.
    I hope the night proved lots of fun and hey, us older women know more tricks non?

  10. I feel your pain on all this , I have a night out in just under 3 weeks time, and Im totally panicked by the whole thing,but the biggest problem is no tartan rug, any chance your sharing?

  11. What's mine is yours, Ida. But Kateonthinice wants a bit of it too so you'll have to endure three of us under there.

  12. "He thrusts opens the slot" pnnarr pnnarr!

    I rarely go out at night - and it's not because I prefer to glue myself to the laptop but rather that I get rather depressed if I go into a pub only to find myself surrounded by boob tube wearing,taut-tummied 17 year olds!

    I lamment the loss of my youth!

  13. Now this is where being a middle aged man comes in rather handy. There are special places for us jumper wearing types. Real Ale pubs. Taut-tummied 17 year olds wouldn't be seen dead near one.

  14. Many thanks to Mammasaurus for leading me astray...I mean to your blog. How wonderful to find a group of like minded, recycled teenagers. The tartan rug sounds nice, but I'm a Primark fleece blanket gal.

    I find lately I'm getting "Madam"'d. Madam? Jesus. Do I look like Molly Sugden ie: bouffant blue rinsed and girdled?

    Back to the story at hand; might I suggest you taxi it to your destination next time? That way you can avoid the vagaries of the public transport system, while keeping your blue rinse intact.


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