BBC Onepolitics show


Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 08:51 GMT
Life begins at 60
Max Cotton
Max Cotton
Risking life and limb for the Politics Show

Max meets the guys on the bus
Max would have been the only fare paying passenger if it was April...

Life doesn't begin at 40 anymore - take it from me.

At 43, it feels like I've been at it a while - children, job, mortgage and the leak in the downstairs loo.

The fun seems to start at 60 in the 21st Century. Grandchildren, pension, time.

I tried to ring my friend Jean (72) the other day, just to see that she was ok - you know - February, cold out.

She wasn't in.

She was on a yacht between Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Well I think Jean, that decency suggests you return your bus pass.

She's normally skiing around this time of year come to think of it.

New travelling folk

From April this year, over 60s are going to be able to use their bus passes not only to travel free to the local shops, but to go anywhere in England.

The Welsh and the Scots already have their own schemes.

Local authorities and bus companies in popular tourist spots are worried that huge numbers of 60-somethings are doing to descend on them leaving councils with a big bill and the spectre of other services - ironically like meals on wheels being cut.

What really struck me about this story was... well... why are we giving people a free bus pass - and why 60?

Max Cotton and ...
Max and...

Producer Ian Lauchlan (father 65 and living the life of Reilly in France) and I went to Brighton to speak to a bus company expecting the worst and to try to find some pensioners who were still kicking.

Joke backfires

As a joke I rang the local hang-gliding club to ask if they had any members approaching 60. There are several. One regular paraglider is 76.

Two windsurfers in their 60's were recommended to me at the marina.

They were described to me by the nice friendly receptionist as the grand-dads you always wished you'd had.

Ian (38 - going grey) arranged for us to film with the Brighton Kendo club.

Kendo is Japanese and it is smacking people around with a huge stick.

Not only was my tutor Simon Crittenden terrifyingly fit at 61, but there is also Pat, who is spoken about with awe at 72 and her husband Roald at 76.

The speed at which these people move and the bloodcurdling scream they give as they slash at their opponents heads did make me wonder why they were getting free bus travel.

Lady at a bus stop
Waiting for the bus will be all worth while for the over 60s come April

Fair's fare?

Ian looked exhausted and in desperate need of a free ride and I looked like a heart attack on bare feet.

So I went home and asked my Ma-in-law (70 - she can dig a quarter of an acre in about four hours) if it was acceptable that the oldies were getting free bus travel.

She is still not speaking to me.

So, from April 2008, the over 60s get to travel anywhere in the country for nothing¿ and it needs a braver man than me to tell them that it's not fair - or was that fare?

The Politics Show on Sunday 24 February at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

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Max Cotton takes on the Silver Kendo Kids


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