Hearing about the people resigning their jobs as a result of their appalling commutes on Southern Rail, and those who are not being offered jobs when potential employers realise they live on that disastrous rail network, I am reminded of my commute to my first proper job.

The smallest village in Sussex seemed quite a romantic place to live when I was unemployed but almost as soon as I'd committed myself to looking after a wanderer's cats I realised that having only five cottages, two farms and a church within walking distance was completely unendurable. The frustration generated enough energy to propel me into a job in London but the commute was two hours on a good day. First, for the seven-mile ride to the station, I had to get my bike started as the mist rolled across from the river (anyone who's had a 1960s British bike will understand the problem). Then I had to depend on a train arriving when the timetable said it should and on the signals and points working all the way to Victoria. Strap-hanging on the underground was a doddle after that but I had to reverse the whole thing in the evening.

During 13 dreadful months I promised myself that I'd never again do a long commute (nor live with cats, but that's another story).

This is part of my current 12-minute cycle ride to work.

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