Jonathan Brown: 'Working from home is billed as a kind of one-way ticket to personal nirvana'

Home And Away

Share
Related Topics

One of the big attractions when it came to swapping London life for the charms of Yorkshire was the opportunity to work from home.

For me, this meant no more commuting nights of hell aboard the vomit comet as it thundered – or should that be chundered – through the Essex countryside each Friday laden with a cargo of post-pub office workers. No more trudging to the station on a rainy Monday morning to discover that a 60-minute journey has suddenly morphed into a three-hour odyssey aboard the replacement bus as it weaves interminably through the back streets of Basildon. Indeed no more paying through the nose for the privilege of it all and spending the best part of three hours a day riding up and down the same old stretch of railway track.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in this era of the ever more pressurised workplace, the prospect of plying one's trade from the comfort of one's own abode has become one of the great desires of the modern worker. Like eating five portions of fresh fruit a day or cutting back on alcohol units, many of us are convinced it will make us happy and healthy.

I too shared that dream. But the reality of the past 18 months working alone from the sanctuary of my garden office, a space carved lovingly and at some cost out of an unused section of our garage, has steadily disabused me of the notion that this is some quick fix to personal nirvana.

Don't get me wrong, there have been some great moments. Teaching my daughter to ride to school on her little pink Disney Princess bicycle. Getting to know the other mums and dads, and generally being a part of everybody's life, rather than an absent and occasionally brooding presence, has been wonderfully enjoyable. But there have been downsides too, and I began to rather miss certain things, the most surprising of which was the dreaded train. For where else in the maelstrom of everyday life with two small children can you sit down for an hour or so of uninterrupted reading time? And rather like those psychologically ill-adjusted US soldiers who found themselves whisked by jet plane from the horrors of jungle warfare in Vietnam one day, to a ticker-tape parade down Main Street the next, I long for the leisurely troopship of the commute to bring me sailing slowly back down to earth after a hard day at the office.

And then of course there is the fact that working on your own means that work is precisely that. There are no football matches to dissect with friendly colleagues, no brains to pick, no impromptu slipping out to the pub. Tasks that could take days in the office can be achieved in just a few hours without the interruption of banter and laughter. So, rather like a smoker who must find something to do with their hands after quitting, I decided that maybe having a guitar to strum during the natural pauses in the working day would help go some way towards filling the gap.

Yet this too has had unseen consequences – most notably that I have once again started to harbour fantasies about rock stardom, despite such dreams having been safely put away some two decades past. Older and wiser now, I am realistic enough to accept it won't be the sex and drugs and rock n' roll rollercoaster I previously envisaged. No, this will be of the credible, widely-admired-by-people-in-the-know kind of success: the occasional appearance on Later with Jools Holland, a few medium-sized arena tours, an album released directly on the internet – that kind of thing. In more rational moments I accept these thoughts are the delusional desires of a man who has recently turned 40, one who spends a bit too much time in his own company. But then again, I reason, it sure beats riding that train.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor