DJ Taylor: Why do extreme commuters do it? It's all down to the rural lifestyle...

 

Share

Trimingham Parva is a charming Suffolk village, halfway between Woodbridge and Saxmundham. If anything detracts from its amenities, it is the sound of Gary Zigo goading his shiny Land Rover along the back-road to Woodbridge station each weekday morning at 5.15am. Why does Mr Zigo have to leave home at this unearthly hour? Well, as he will proudly inform you, jobs in commercial property need an early start, and Gary's boss in Fenchurch Street likes his boys to be around by eight.

The metropolitan workforce is full of acronyms these days, from the DIFKs ("Doing it for the kids"), to PTFs ("part-time flotsam"). Gary is an ExCom, or "Extreme Commuter".The drive to Woodbridge takes him 20 minutes, the ride to Ipswich another 30, followed by a 70-minute push towards Liverpool Street. And all this is to ignore the final hand-to-hand struggle of the Circle Line.

There are far worse ExComs than Gary – he knows game inhabitants of Buckinghamshire rectories who beetle down to Clapham Junction – but his 30 hours a week on road and railway carriage put him up there with the hardcore and their fund of occupational horror-stories: the hours spent in broken-down trains in sidings outside Colchester, the 70-mile taxi-trips around storm-blocked lines.

Why does Gary do it? All down to the rural lifestyle, isn't it? Marion and the girls don't want to live in some clapped-out London suburb where you can't nip round to the off-licence without the stroppy kids staring at you. And whoever said time spent on a train was wasted? Why, when he isn't logging on to the firm's intranet or checking his email, Gary can get through 10 to a dozen movies a week on his laptop: only last year he did all his Christmas shopping somewhere between Manningtree and Shenfield.

No one who heard Gary express these sentiments could doubt that he means every word. In reality, the Zigos' take-up of the rural lifestyle has been fairly limited. They attend the local church once a year on Christmas Eve and ignore the half-dozen excellent shops in favour of excursions to Colchester. Apart from occasional winded saunters around the back-lanes, Gary's principal leisure activity is watching Sky Sports on the big plasma screen in the snooker room. Meanwhile, the girls are getting just the tiniest bit bored with living in the country and Mrs Z is talking about riverside developments in Putney.

React Now

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why