The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Driving With The Brakes On …

When I first started working in London – just as I was starting out in this industry – I commuted about 5 hours a day.


To be fair, that was of my own making because the company thought I lived in London because I’d given them my aunts address when I applied and got hird.

When they eventually found out I lived with my parents in Nottingham, they were livid.

And they had every right to be.

But as they were giving me the first of my long history of written warnings, I asked the question: “would you have hired me if you knew I lived in Nottingham?” … and didn’t hear a word back.

And while I knew I deserved it, what pissed me off was that I generally was always the first person in and last out. Driving up and down the M1 in my shitty Ford Fiesta with one wing mirror and a radio that couldn’t drown out the sound of my engine. But the fact was, I was a bloody idiot and as much as they probably wouldn’t have hired me if I’d be honest with them from the start, I was fortunate not to be kicked out of an industry I still love.

Well. Most of the time.

And while I was young and having a car felt amazing … even then I knew 5 hours a day – 25 hours a week on a good week – was too much.

Winter was the worst.

Bad weather meant it could take almost double the time to get there and back and many a time I slept on a friends couch or a motorway service station, in my car under a mountain of coats and blankets I kept in the boot ‘just in case’.

My parents were not happy about it, but I think because my Dad’s brother-in-law was travelling 8 hours per day [he was head of traffic control at Gatwick airport] it somehow made them feel a bit better about it.

What’s interesting is that after that job, I vowed never to be more than 30 minutes from work.

And I wasn’t.

Until, of course, I came back to London.

Even though I was in a much better position personally and professionally than I was the last time I worked – and eventually lived there – no one drives into Central London anymore. And while I genuinely enjoyed catching the tube or the bus – helped by the fact that the stations I got on at meant I generally always got a seat – it still was a 80+ minute journey each way, each day.

Given our house was only 7 miles from work, that made my old 2+ hour journey over 120 miles, look positively effective.

And this was life for me.

Out the house before the family woke up.

Back at home as the family – or at least Otis – was going to bed.

And while we made it work and weekends were sacrosanct, the fact I was spending a minimum of 13+ hours a week going to and from work was – and is – ridiculous.

So when COVID started and we all started working from home, I was – for the first time in my life – able to have breakfasts, lunches and dinners every day with my family and I can honestly say I found it pretty confronting.

You see I loved it.

Absolutely loved it.

It was – and still is – one of the most wonderful times of my life.

And while I enjoy working, I started to question what the hell I was doing spending so much time away from them just to get to and from work.

Then R/GA did the nicest thing they could do for me.

They made me redundant.

And while there are things I could say about how they did it and why they did it, the fact is, I’ll always be grateful to them for the opportunity they gave me to come back to England, develop the team I got to work with and then – at the end – hand me my redundancy so I could rediscover and reclaim my priorities, passion and creativity.

Right now, I feel more fulfilled and excited than I have in a long time.

I’m spending more time with my family than ever before while working on a range of global projects that are some of the most creative I’ve ever been involved with.

Mad, mental stuff – from ads to products to art installations – which involve some of the most talented creative people in their field … from an icon of dance/electronic music to the most notorious developers in the gaming category and a bunch in-between.

Then, of course, I have the brilliant excitement of NZ and Colenso to look forward to, too.

It’s all simply amazing.

While I appreciate I am in an exceptionally lucky and privileged position, I can’t help thinking about this quote:

“The problem with life is we sacrifice what we really want to do with what is available right now.”

We all do it.

We might have different reasons causing it, but we all do it.

And while there are many considerations, situations and expectations that push us down these paths, I hope if anything comes out of the craziness of 2020, it’s that we think why we’re doing it rather than just blindly following it.

Because it’s only when we question our choices can we start seeing where we’re going.

And then we have a little more control. Or choice. Or even peace. We all deserve that.

25 Comments so far
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I know a few people who were doing 5 hour commutes a day. I also know they’re all questioning the sanity of doing that having now discovered the extra life they enjoy working from home. I know it was their choice to do that but it was also the only choice many of them had.

Comment by George

Work to live.

Comment by Pete

Yes, it’s not that uncommon. I know/knew people who commute from a different country to work each day. I’m not talking Wales to England … but Spain to England.

Each day. Every day.

Of course that is their decision, but that’s a hell of a sacrifice, even if they see it as allowing them to live a lifestyle they want. I wonder what they think now they are based at home. It will be interesting to find out.

Comment by Rob

That fiesta was a death trap. I think I only rode in it once then moved to America.

Comment by George

Yes it was. But I loved it.

[Until I got a new fiesta with 2 wing mirrors, hahaha]

Comment by Rob

Love this! Thanks for sharing!

Comment by letterroll

All this post proves is cats aren’t the only ones who always land on their feet.

Comment by Bazza

I think cats got that reputation from Rob’s reputation of always landing on his feet.

Comment by Pete


Comment by Rob

Knowing someone in charge of making planes land safely had an 8 hour commute has not done my fear of flying any good.

Comment by Bazza

Yes. That is unnerving. But so is that some pilots in the US are so lowly paid, they have second jobs. How is your anxiety doing now Baz?

Comment by George

Hahahaha … he wasn’t guiding the planes down himself, he was in charge of the department that did. You can let the anxiety go, Bazza.

Comment by Rob

I don’t think anyone could get away with what you did for your first London gig anymore. I know how much that place meant to you so I can imagine you were petrified when they found out what you were doing. But it would be hard to let go of someone who has that sort of commute and is still first in and last out. I may have made a joke comment about always landing on your feet but the reality it I’ve not met someone who has always put in so much effort and focus. The situation you are now in is not because of luck, it’s because of the 30 years of incredibly hard work you have put in.

Comment by Pete

Rob doesn’t decide your payrise anymore.

Comment by Bazza

Are you OK Pete? I mean this is lovely to read, but are you OK? Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob


Comment by Pete

you fucking creep.

Comment by andy@cynic

What if Pete was saying that about you Andrew?

Comment by George

I’m tempted to conclude that this shows that presenteeism works, but I’m more interested that your first bosses were worried about you spending all that time in the real non-London world.

As for your Tube commute, we both know its days were numbered due to your voyeuristic photography.

Comment by John

Hahahaha … that’s probably the real reason, That and I would turn the lights on and off in the day.

Ad for the Tube.

My lawyer has said it’s best not to say anything to stop any further incrimination.

Comment by Rob

Given that you reduced your alibi potential by inisisting on taking exactly the same route every day (even if there was another train sitting there for us to take), that’s probably the best thing.

Comment by John

i dont even want to know what this fucking means.

Comment by andy@cynic

the day they didnt fire you was the day my life turned to shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

And mine. With a bunch of good moments thrown in to confuse me.

Comment by DH

fucking crawler.

Comment by andy@cynic

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