A Short Story About Commuting (or Modern Life Is Rubbish)


Raymond was looking forward to getting home. He knew that his wife and two lovely little daughters would be waiting for him. He hurried along the wet sidewalk.

Presently he arrived at the point of the journey he always hated. Here, he either had to walk through a cold, dirty dark tunnel which – if he avoided mishap – would shave many minutes from his journey, or he would have to take the safe but long way round. It was a horrible day – cats and dogs would be a suitable epithet and he had left his umbrella at home that morning.

He decided upon the tunnel.

Within seconds he realised it was a mistake. A dirty individual in ragged clothes leapt out from behind the wheelie bins and stood in front of him. Legs apart. Confrontational. Raymond instantly recognised him, and knew he was in for a bad time.

He tried familiarity.

“Virgil Trails” Raymond started confidently. “I haven’t seen you round these parts for ages”

Virgil grinned. It wasn’t a pleasant grin. “Wait there” he grunted.

He ventured behind the bin and returned seconds later with a baseball bat,

“What the fuck? – ” Raymond exclamation of surprise was interrupted by the bat crashing into the side of his jaw. He saw a string of blood sailing through the air.

Virgil regarded Raymond’s confusion and surprise with satisfaction. Suddenly he stepped forward and drove the fat end of the bat into Raymond’s solar plexus. The sound of ribs breaking could be heard and the commuter doubled up in pain, coughing.

Virgil stepped back again as if to admire his brutality but in fact he was simply better positioning himself to arc a vicious uppercut swing which caught the bent-over Raymond on the point of his chin.

Raymond  toppled over, unconscious.

The ruffian sauntered off to his space behind the bins once again and this time returned with a bucket of ice cold water. He threw it upon the prone figure of Raymond, who shuddered and then came to.

Rising gingerly to his feet and wiping the blood from his mouth he started moving backwards. Terrified. Through his broken jaw and teeth Raymond was only able to mumble a single question.


Virgil cleared his throat, fixed his shirt and very politely and delicately announced

“I am very sorry for the broken nature of your face. This was caused by a malfunction in my psychological operations. Virgil Trails apologises for any inconvenience caused.”

He smiled brightly and disappeared back behind the dirty bins.

The battered, cold wet – and late – Raymond ran off crying with pain and disbelief.

Gonna Start a Revolution From My Bed


Unmade Bed – Photo by Montag

I’ve been working in Manchester of late, doing the seven-fifteen shuffle across the peak district – it is so dispiriting sometimes that it has been known to inspire poetry!

There must be something about commuting at this time of year that leads to polemics. Last year I wrote a fairly heartfelt post railing against the commercialisation of Christmas. And while this year the corporate feeding frenzy seems to have been toned down a bit, you can bet your penultimate pound that they are working hard to manipulate us in a myriad of subtle ways.

Anyway to revolutions, beds and the like. Stumbling off my commuter carriage into the murk of Manchester Piccadilly station, I was struck by the multitude of ‘revenue protection agents’. In an instant, modern society seemed clear to me. All this effort goes into protecting revenue – not a man shall cross the threshold between platform and concourse without their purchase credentials being checked. Continue reading