Every stage of your hellish Home Counties commute

Hey there Dan from School who I haven’t seen in five years


All Londoners complain about their commute, but most of them haven’t experienced the horror of living in the Home Counties and working in the Big Smoke.

Whether it’s Herts or Bucks, Sussex or Surrey, these are the painful truths of the commute from hell.

You’ll wake up at an ungodly hour

Maybe if Southern could run an efficient service like ever, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a lift to Epsom station at 7:10am. But they can’t, so you spend your early mornings praying that the traffic lights by Homebase go green in time for you to make your train. But no, your mum has to tell you about your little sister’s AS choices right then and there, so even if you make it to the station car park on time, she’ll make you stay and listen to the differences between the workloads of Psychology and Sociology.

You forget what your hometown looks like in daylight

You forget what your hometown looks like in daylight

You’ll have to avoid Dan from school on the platform

There’s a choice to be made when you see someone you used to go to school with. A near impossible decision between ignoring someone that’s never done anything to you or forcing yourself to ask how they’re doing even though you know they still work at Pets at Home on the high street. In the best case scenario, you both mutually accept you have nothing to talk about, put your headphones on and go on living your life. But what actually happens is that you have to avoid eye contact for the whole 37 minute journey to St. Pancras.

The middle of platform crew

The middle of platform crew

Just as you get to the platform, your train will be pulling off

Now you have to wait 15 minutes for another, while the growing horde behind you slowly pushes you further and further over the yellow line. If any of them push in front of you, all hell is going to break loose.

When you finally get a train, you won’t get a seat

You’ve made it to your special spot on the platform just in time. The angry bald man you think is probably called Gary is there with his Natwest umbrella, as is the angry-looking redhead in the camel coat you hope you have an excuse to talk to one day. As the train rolls up it slowly becomes clear that you’re not getting a seat today. You are swept up in a tide of expensive trench coats and golf umbrellas and mentally prepare yourself for a good half an hour of pain. All you wanted to do is sleep and now you can’t, so you fly towards London in a half-asleep dreamlike state where nothing is real and everything is horrible.

A lot of sleeping bankers

A lot of sleeping bankers

You’ll forget to get a Metro and regret it because your phone is on like five per cent

Meanwhile, Dan is just down the carriage, looking over his well-thumbed copy of Gone Girl and dying for a chat.

You decide to fuck everyone over and sit in the middle of a group of standing people

I am so, so tired – so you know what, I’m going to sit. I don’t care that angry titans of industry are towering over me like the New York skyline. I’m going to sit here and read about Pippa Middleton probably get pins and needles and you’re going to have to be OK with that.

The vestibule squad

The vestibule squad

You’ll end up sitting in the luggage rack

Is this alright? Can I do this? No-one around me has luggage, so it’s probably OK to climb on in. Oh fuck, that guy’s got a fold-up bike, and there’s a small Albanian family who got on at Luton Airport Parkway with two cases each pitifully eyeing me up. Oh well, better stick to my guns. If I keep my eyes glued to this Nivea for Men advert maybe they’ll just go away.

Comfy are we?

Comfy are we?

You missed breakfast, so you’ll make a huge mess of eating it on the train

The peeling of your banana will be an absolute fucking shambles. You’ll get pain au chocolat crumbs all over the iPhone of the cold-looking woman next to you while she argues with her boyfriend over text. The optimistic cappuccino you bought when you had ten minutes to spare at the station? That’s now all over your suit trousers.

You’ll be really close to someone else’s face and will have to stifle a cough/fart/sneeze and will inevitably fail

My apologies go out to those on the 7:34 from Guildford.

You’ll eventually get a seat, but it won’t be as rewarding as it should be

The happiness you should be feeling is ruined by the tall, clumsy-looking guy next to you, who keeps brushing your face with his coat or letting the dangly bits on his rucksack tickle your ears as he pores over his Jack Reacher book. Can he just fucking not? Meanwhile the bloke opposite you with the resting bitch face and the loud cough has started an unwanted game of footsie, and the broad-shouldered suits on either side are forcing you to sit like you’re stuck down a chimney.

Sweet salvation

Sweet salvation

The train will stop for what seems like forever in an interminable stretch of countryside

While this happens, you’ll realise the middle-aged woman next to you has a really bad cold. You try and phase out the world around you by staring into the middle distance.

You won’t be concentrating when you get to your station

Look, I’ve been on this train for so long that I’m more or less on first-name terms with everyone in my carriage. It’s not really my fault that I didn’t notice the sign for London Bridge, or that I bolted out of my seat with such force that I knocked the satchel out of that frail old man’s hand. It was him or me, and I’ve been late for work three times this week already.

Like cattle

Like cattle

You’ll still be late for work

London hates you.

When work finishes, you’ll have to leave everything early

Going out for drinks after work is one of the rare diamonds in adult working life. The thought of meeting old uni friends, mates from London, people you’re not really sure how you know but like anyway, gets most of us through the day. Until that it is, in the middle of drinks, when everyone’s starting to get fun, you have to leave because it takes at least 20 minutes to get back to Waterloo and then you have to wait at least half an hour because you missed the one you ran for.

You’ll rush to get on a train which you think is yours

You won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face for the first couple of minutes, you’ve smashed it. According to the National Rail app, your train wasn’t for another six minutes, but you proved them wrong, you hacked your own life. But when the announcer kindly informs you this service will be stopping at every single station between Hendon, Cricklewood and Mill Hill Broadway, you’ll realise you’ve fucked it. What is Penge anyway, and why does it need a station?

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You’ll be a little too drunk for a work night

You try to start the next chapter of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but you keep getting to the bottom of the page and forgetting what you’ve just read. You clumsily eat a Subway while the expectant mother opposite you looks on in disgust. You stagger up and down the train looking for a toilet – when you eventually find one it’s out of order, and you can’t prise the door open. You retreat to your seat and decide to close your eyes. But only for a sec of course.

You’ll wake up at Portsmouth Harbour

Why does this keep happening to me? What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment? The trains have stopped running and I’m cold, so I’m going to have to spend 20 minutes hailing a dodgy-looking cab and pay £45 to get home at midnight.

Your dad will refuse to pick you up because it’s past 11:30

He says it’s because you didn’t let him know at 6pm what your plans were. But you know what dad? I’m a young professional, in my twenties. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 20 minutes, let alone hours in advance. I don’t need this. Just pick me up exactly when I want, from outside the station, like an Uber driver I can borrow a tenner off if I really need it. Why can’t he understand that?

Thanks dad x

Thanks dad x

You’ll finally get home to your bed, knowing you’re up again in five hours

Maybe you should just quit and work in town. We hear David Lloyd are hiring.