Article published on Dec. 21, 2007
Article published on Dec. 21, 2007
10am, London Train Leaving home in the early light of a drab North Eastern morning and sleepwalking into a commuter filled Metro, Colorado seems a very long way away. My journey will call at London and Chicago en-route and I will not arrive at my destination for at least another thirty six hours (assuming all goes to plan).
Watching commuters slouch, yawn and grumble through the concourse at Central Station, I count a number of faces that wear the pale, gaunt expression of wanting to be anywhere else. Many of these ghoulish types are young and belie the look of tired resignation that comes with wanting more from life. People who thought that a University education would allow them to escape the monotony of the nine-to-five, and who have a whole five days of drudgery between now and blotting out reality on a Friday evening. These are our binge drinkers, our recreational drug users. These are the by-product of New Labour - a generation who dared to believe only to have their aspirations and dreams student-loaned into the ether.

Nursing a coffee, I allow myself to reflect on this and recall that only this time last year, I was one of these suit-clad zombies watching their 'temporary' position sliding towards a modicum of permanence. Thinking back to the dark days of winter 2006 still makes my shoulders slouch. One year ago I was doing a monotonous job that I was stupidly over-qualified for, for a cause I didn't care about and for a boss who was a bona fide fool. To cap it all I was single. I still recall the crushing depression I felt clocking in at the start of every week, where my only escape was tilting my computer screen out of the view of my colleagues and sending long, detailed treatises to friends in which I plotted my escape. I got to the point where I needed so much more from life and the day that I left that gulag of mediocrity was the day I began to live again.

I am sure there is a lesson there somewhere.

So much has changed in my life since then, and nigh on everything for the better. I feel challenged and am looking to the future. Sitting here travelling with my girlfriend I feel genuinely happy - although to paraphrase Harold Wilson, 'thirty-six hours in a confined space is a long time in a relationship!'

But no matter how much changes, some things are always the same. Writing this somewhere south of York, the train carriage heating is not working (not a bad return for 96GBP!). The franchise might change, the livery alter, but the fact remains that the British train network is an absolute fucking shambles and in itself a metaphor for modern Britain: overpriced, below standard and constantly making excuses for itself.

Roll on London.