Sunday, 2 October 2011


The problem with commuting is that I can't claim that we were fibbed to about this one. Commuting is universally acknowledged to be basically pants. It's stressful, other humans are dreadful, public transport and roads are worse, and it represents everything that is wrong. Perhaps it needs pointing out be enthusiastic people who reckon they can totally apply to jobs that are about three hours away from where they actually live.

I'm not sure if what I do to go to work counts as 'commuting' but it can quite often represent the most depressing part of my day. Bearing in mind that I work with the general public when they're angry, this is quite a statement.

I used to get the train to my old job. It was a small local train with distressing efficiency; I was never late, there was always a seat and generally a copy of the Metro. Being Trendy Shop Work, I was generally in jeans and looking fabulous(ish), whilst those surrounding me were in business suits. I quite enjoyed it, all things considered. I had time to read, which is always precious.

Now that I work in a rural area, public transport was never a possibility. There is a train station half an hour's walk from work, but it never made sense to take it. I've been driving in to work for the last two years, but only recently has it become the type of drive where you quietly debate crashing into a wall for a bit of variety, with the move to Seaside Town.

My main problems, in no particular order:

1.Recently local councils have been deliberately planning road closures in my route to work, and then moving them to my new route when I finally manage to find yet another new route through twisting country lane. At one point I found myself having a full blown tantrum in the car because all I wanted in the whole world was to be at home cooking my tea, and instead I was stuck in YET ANOTHER diversion.

2.Schoolchildren. Now, I am aware that people have to go to school. I accept this. I went to school myself, you know. I am constantly astonished at how many kids are driven in these days. The drive home, as a rule, is much easier; driving in the morning involves passing two high schools, one sixth-form college and three primary schools. That's with a little effort; if I went some other, theoretically quicker routes, the numbers would double. Irritatingly, the high school in Seaside Town I have to pass starts at 8.30am (i.e. when I'm leaving the house) whereas the high school in Home Town on the way to work starts at 9.00am. There is no way around this that is legal.

ALSO. I drive past a very swanky private establishment, and if one more person cuts me up in a large white 4x4 I will just drive into it. There's one woman in a white BMW monstrosity (why are they so big?) who I swear does it for fun.

3.It is impossible to drive whilst reading.

4.Breakfast radio is appalling. Radio 4 is depressing; Radio 2 is too chirpy; local stations are simply abhorrent. I tend to listen to Radio 1 and then channel hop during the vast majority of the music. This is perhaps because I am an old person now. The journey home isn't too bad; Scott Mills is quite good on Radio 1, and if the guest of the day is of your Cher Lloyd variety, Simon Mayo is acceptable on Radio 2. But oh, the mornings.

5.Every other driver appears to feel just as agitated and unhappy as I do in the mornings, leading to an awful lot of road rage. My cursing is both invective and inventive.

6.The depressing knowledge that I am doing all of this just to go to work, and spending £20 a week on petrol for the privilege of doing so.

In The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, one of the things that Frank is agitating for is the right to be paid for travel time to work. I never agreed with this until I had an hour long round trip every day to get to work.

I realise I have no right to complain. The reason we moved from walking distance from my work is that Mr DG can't drive, and as he works in Seaside Town he was enjoying a two hour trip into work every day, and I'm not that cruel to make him do that after a nine hour day. If I see that ominous 'ROAD CLOSED' sign again, though, I may think otherwise.

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