Last week, I talked about what a moany lot we are, taking to Twitter to complain about U2's Song Of Innocence landing unrequested in our global iTunes accounts – because really, there's nothing we like more than having a good whinge.
As if by magic, I was given yet another opportunity late last week to prove that we're never happier than when we're whining. (I'm running out of verbs here: moan, complain, whinge, whine. Just be aware that the next word I use to portray the same emotion or verb will be made up.)
But whether by accident or design, the moanthusiasts (told you) in question were all Londoners.
Yes, Creativepoolers, I'm talking about a lot of your capital-commuting colleagues. Not you, of course. Oh, no, siree. You're far too cool to be a grumblite (get the idea?)
So this opportunity took the form of Channel 5's programme “Britain's Craziest Commutes”. It followed a handful of people who – according to the title – had among the worst commutes in Britain. It's true, many of them did. Travelling three hours each way from the Isle of Wight to Tottenham Court Road – half of which was with a toddler (who was dropped off halfway to be with her nan at Southampton) – seems to be a completely bonkers thing to do. But according to single mum Sarah, the money she earns in London and the quality of life she gets on the Isle of Wight makes it all worthwhile. Is she at home long enough to enjoy it, I wondered. I guess she must be.
Then we had another inspirational woman with cerebral palsy who spends 1.75 hours a day getting to and from work. Then a guy who lived on the Isle of Mull who loved his 300-mile journey to Glasgow every day, wending his way through the picturesque Scottish (sorry, British) scenery.
And so we come to the Londoners. Let's just remind ourselves of the title of this programme: Britain's Craziest Commutes. So, poor, unfortunate Caroline was at home, munching away on her breakfast as early as 7am (What?! I ask you! 7am?! She may as well have not even gone to bed!) trying to work out whether her train was cancelled or not because she had the commute to end all commutes ahead of her: she had to travel EIGHT WHOLE MILES from Sydenham in Southeast London to London Bridge!
Dear God! I hope she's been watching Bear Grylls to pick up some survival techniques, because I for one don't fancy her chances out there.
You'd think her nightmare would end there, though. But oh, no – we aren't even CLOSE. I sat on the edge of my seat, eating imaginary popcorn without blinking as I watched her board an UNDERGROUND TRAIN! And not just any underground train. But the NORTHERN LINE! Seriously, I can't believe I'm typing this; in fact, is it a dream? No human could survive this, surely. If she'd had to change at Bank or something, I really don't know how either of us would have coped.
Oh, for the love of St Christopher! I have absolutely no idea why this journey featured in a programme called Britain's Craziest Commutes, unless the reason for doing so was to illustrate that Londoners are a bunch of angermonkeys. But I really don't think we are. Four million people do Caroline's journey and worse every day, so hers is hardly a one-off. I've done it myself – and worse. Last week, it took me 2.5 hours one way to get to my office. No, of course it's not the most pleasant thing in the world, but does it warrant any airtime at all? Well, if I'd wrestled a small child out of the jaws of an alligator that had escaped from the safari park and was running along the A1, then maybe. But seeing someone get a bit squashed on a train and then moanifying about it like some sort of hard-done-by workhouse orphan annoyed me no end.
To the Carolines of this world, can I suggest you take a look at this YouTube video of commuters in Tokyo? You want to know what a packed train carriage looks like? You ain't seen nothin' till you've seen this:
Ashley is a copywriter, editor and blogger