Saturday, 26 April 2008

Fare's Fair

I had to renew La Fille's railcard. It's called Enfant Plus and enables her to travel for free on the French rail network (sadly not the Eurostar) and gives up to four other people travelling with her reductions of between 25% and 50% of the price of their tickets. We bought her first one three years ago just after she was born to take her to her grandmother's in Normandy. It made me chuckle every time we used it recently because they kept renewing it with the same picture and, as with her passport, she now looks nothing like the pastel-cheeked month- old baby in the photo. "Smile at the immigration officer," I always instruct La Fille trying, usually in vain, to raise a smile. They must go on special courses these days to spot people whose photos have been airbrushed out of recognition. A few years ago I was once caught out by an eagle-eyed official at the British Embassy in Paris trying to renew my passport with a decade old photograph. Strangely, it was not because I looked older that I was rumbled (well that's what I told myself) but because the old passport picture and the new one were from a favourite set and she noticed I had the same shirt on in both. Then she peered at me, handed the paperwork back and suggested I go to the photo booth round the corner. Quite apart from the humiliation of having my vanity exposed, it was a bad hair and spots day but I had no choice as we were going on holiday 48 hours later.

Anyway, I knew the price of the Enfant Plus card would have gone up and it had. From 68 to 69 euros: one princely euro - at current exchange rates 78p. As an extra bonus, the young man at the SNCF ticket office who renewed the pass, Diego according to his name badge, was friendly, helpful, efficient and even smiled. "What a lovely surprise," I said aloud. He thought I meant the one euro price increase.

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