Sideways GlanceBy Sam Barker

If you live in Bridport, it’s not the thing to confess that you rely on London for your lucre. That instead of being locally grounded, you are tied to one of the tendrils of the metropolis – that you are one of the tendrils of the metropolis. And that, by inference, you are partly to blame for rising house prices, gentrification, Farrow and Ball on the Dreadnought Estate.

The metropolitan migrants, therefore, bear their burden lightly. Burden? The 4.30am starts, the 10pm returns, the dark and icy badger-strewn drive to Crewkerne station. And the hours of life lost to South West Trains.

My first peregrination of 2015 was not auspicious. From Bridport to Crewkerne, to a succession of incidental places (Tisbury), to Salisbury, to Waterloo, to Old Street. And then back. Except the return journey was cut short by an inexplicable signal-apocalypse for all stations west of Salisbury. “We don’t know what caused it,” explained the customer relations manager on Salisbury station, “It’s not the snow.” Not that there was any.

By a quirk of fate, there were a lot of people travelling from Waterloo to Crewkerne that evening. None fitted the suit-wearing commuting archetype. Most were women. Some were drunk. Some were drunk women, brandishing an open bottle of Prosecco.

To South West Trains’ credit, they coped. There’s nothing like a public transport failure, miles from home, on a biting winter’s night, to dispel the illusion of self-determinism. On a hot summer’s evening several years ago, the trains malfunctioned outside Woking, leaving thousands of incarcerated commuters to dehydrate until the system resumed – the drinks trolleys denuded of everything but vodka. But last Tuesday, SWT was organised. A fleet of taxis was waiting at Salisbury. The stranded were segregated into groups and sent on by destination.

The Crewkerne taxi was more of a minibus. The camaraderie fizzed and faded as phones came out and the dislocated journey was dissipated across friends and family. The taxi driver went fast, maybe even too fast, and we were back in Crewkerne by 10pm, in Bridport by 10.30pm, ready for work the next morning. The secret commuters of DT6.