'You've done what with the tram ticket?'
My son goes into the usual exasperated laugh and eye-rolling that's his stock response to much that I do.
I, meantime, am standing with said ticket, now black on the underside, in one hand. In the other dangles a tea-towel bearing a blurred black rectangle the exact size of the ticket.
'I told you not to do it!' He throws his hands up and pivots, eyes on the ceiling.
We are staying at D's flat in Brussels, where he's come to work in some vast financial corporation. As it's Friday he'd gone off on the tram to work, and I'd tidied up a bit. About half past ten he rang to ask if I'd found the ticket on the table:
'In case you want to go into the city. It has some credits and you feed it into a slot on the tram when you get on.'
Seemed reasonable, but where's the ticket? Ah, yes, there it is, all crumpled in the waste bin.
Instead of going into the city R and I spend the day recovering from Euro-lag - drinking coffee in the market square and being persuaded to spend £20 on 3 kilos of mussels which the stall-holder assured me would be barely enough for three people. Another mistake, going by the reaction when I told D over the phone. I was spared the eye-rolling on that one.
He more than made up for it when I showed him the bent ticket at the flat.
'Oh, you've buggered it, now. See what it says on the bottom - 'Ne pliez pas, SVP'?
'Never mind, I can iron it!'
Even R joins in the remonstrations on that one. 'Don't do that. I've got all the details and one or two others to return - they give out refunds. '
So I waited until their backs were turned and did the deed - resulting in the back of the ticket being transferred to the towel.
'What a scam! I bet they make a lot of money that way!'
So I'm glad to get back to London with my Freedom Pass and the trusty Oyster-swipe system.