The London Commute

By Cameron Tubb


06:00AM (God forbid earlier for the unlucky souls!) … Alarm rings … Panic … Deep breath … Heart rate slows … Realisation hits … *Sigh* … Gulp … It is the London commute!

If you have not done it before then here, you can read and bask in the glory of knowing you might never have to and laugh at those who have and could very well be doing as we read this.

Most of us commute… maybe not now in this 1984-esque dystopian future we all are living in of Covid-19 and lockdowns, but in the real world for 90% of us, it’s a normal part life. We wake up at a reasonable time…… wwweeeellll for some of us without the responsibility of kids, maybe scraping the reality of time to get that extra 30 seconds of shut eye, only for us to then rush and jump in the shower for the water to merely flutter over us as we run through the list of everything we need to do before we leave. But that’s not me, noooo *clear throat*. For most of us normies, we can enjoy the pleasure of a lie-in and a relaxing start to the day, maybe hit the gym, make a smoothie bowl and put a few pics on the gram, read the morning paper with fresh Columbian coffee, maybe even (if we can be bothered) take the younglings to school. All the great things that make life…life…right?!

But then there is this group of people (I use to be one of them) that decide to leave the comfort and joys of working locally, adding to the local economy, engaging in a community and building a better place to live. NO! We don’t want a home life, we don’t want to commute just 15 minutes; we don’t want to go for a pint after work, we don’t want to remember what our partner’s and loved one’s faces look like. We venture wide and far to the big and scary city of London!

My day started at zero six hundred hours (sorry for the military lingo it just felt like a military exercise). This was to get ready for the zero seven hundred train to arrive at zero eight twenty (I have started it I need to follow through). Zero six hundred hours is not that early, but for me it just meant the next 3 hours of my life were dedicated to getting to an office! Now that I’m dressed and ready, it’s the 15-minute walk to the station (imagine if I worked locally that could have been me done). I’m now at the station. I’ve just spent an extortionate £750 on a monthly return and it is now time to wrestle punters for a good spec. I’m 6”4 so I always have my wits about me when it comes to seats, I always go for the very last seat on the carriage as they have extra leg room for the elderly and pregnant ladies, but I’ve decided that being tall also counts. 90% of the time I win the battle and the worry is over and my seat has been acquired. Now it is about finding that sweet spot for my nap, praying that it will be a quiet day with no loud phone conversations, just ignoring the fact that I ran down the platform to choose the quiet carriage. Deep breath Cameron… damn, now I’m talking and writing to myself in third person. I start off by watching TV and reading but I find that sleeping passes the time much quicker and a little Brian Eno helps me drop off. The only perk being that Waterloo is the very last stop, so no need to keep waking up to see if I have arrived. It is now zero eight twenty and I’m at Waterloo, whether its winter or summer, Waterloo is just rammmmmed (for argument’s sake, let’s just say it’s summer because I can moan more about that). I now have a 40-minute journey across London to get to Knightsbridge, which means taking the underground… If there is anything that will make you want to work locally (or at least within a reasonable distance) it’s using the tube in the summer, I still get PTSD and wake up in cold sweats thinking about the unbearable heat! If I felt like my shower wasn’t long enough, 30 minutes on the underground would get me showered with hundreds of passengers’ sweat and warm breath! By the time I exit the train and make my way up to the scorching surface, I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m looking in good shape ready to start the day! The only problem is that I know I must do the exact same journey back at 5:30 to get home for about 8:30, where the cycle begins again!

For me, this just became a little tiresome and I wasn’t really gaining anything extra in life, if anything I was losing out on things. For some (me), the commute might be a necessity to further their careers, a short sacrifice of time for a long-term future goal.

For me it came down to a handful of things:

• Time in bed! I joke about it, but I am a sleep lover and I need a good 8 hours of sleep to function, and I didn’t want to keep getting home at 8:30 to then eat and go straight to bed again.
• I lost out on social aspects of life with friends and family, girlfriend.
• It drained my bank account.
• I realised London wasn’t making me any better at what I wanted to do, and I could do what I loved anywhere.
• I didn’t really get to know anyone I worked with, as socialising after work or on the weekends was just impossible.
• A big one for me is lifestyle, coming from a small town and living near the Peak District I never felt like I fitted in with the ethos of London. It just feels money hungry, and everyone is trying to pitch Tony Robbins and self-help guru seminars to make you a better person.
• Too much choice! Some people love choice, but I am a simple man.

Overall, for me, I needed work/life balance and when I felt like work was all I was living for, I took a step back!