I was on a train from Sussex to London, my first since lockdown, when I realised I like my commute. The thought worried me a little. What kind of weirdo have I become? A commute is a psychological hurdle, something to be endured, not enjoyed. What’s next? The giddy thrill of waiting in a queue? A root-canal fan club? There are some aspects to commuting I don’t enjoy — the expense of a season ticket, of course, and frustrating delays — but overall, yes, I do like it. And during lockdown I actually missed it.
What makes my enjoyment even weirder is that I have no interest in trains. There are some big train enthusiasts in my family — my great uncle can point out inaccuracies in Ravilious’s depiction of a third-class Great Western Railway carriage — but I’m neutral at best. It’s the journey I like. Or, to be more accurate, I like the uninterrupted two and half hours in my day that the journey guarantees.
I see my commute as a sort of airlock between home and the office. I’m lucky to love my family and my job — it would be hard, I think, to go from one to the other if I dreaded either — but the commute gives me two and half hours a day to spend how I please with no other task at hand. At the height of lockdown, friends and colleagues raved about the many books they had the time to read now they were working from home. The opposite was true for me. Without my usual time with Southeastern, I was reading much less.
Some people do extraordinary, creative things on their commute.