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



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

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Negotiator

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Central London based firm loo...

Day In a Page

Read Next

If I were Prime Minister: I'd champion the young and hold a cabinet meeting on top of Ben Nevis

Bear Grylls

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot