Riut blog

Revolutionise your daily commute for free


Seeing something every day has a remarkable effect. You don't end up knowing it so well that you feel you could write a book about it. Instead, it disappears. It goes. Your local bus stop, station, your road. If someone asked about it you'd say: "What. That thing? I pass it every day. In my view, it's ugly as..." I think there's something great about marvelling at the mundane: the things that others walk by, huff at and find ugly, normal or invisible. Would it make a difference to your life if you were interested in everything around you on your daily commute, rather than growing tired of seeing it all?

Trainspotters, street art photographers, urban architecture historians, future film directors, journalists to be and budding novelists see it differently, your daily journey. The rail enthusiast sees that the unexpectedly old tube carriage you're in is a 1960s one pulled out of service on the Isle of Wight to perform a few extra days' work to keep the trains running on time. The graffiti photographer spots a Spanish graffiti artist has been present in your city and takes a portrait for posterity. The architect looks up and marvels at the rare facades as thousands, millions, walk past at pace.

Bored in Beijing.

It's some people's job to look at normal surroundings afresh. They are the people whose articles and books you read on your commute, or whose films you watch in the evening. Their material and inspiration? Your normality. They have all managed to look at the normal things around them and see something - a story, a picture or just something interesting. For some reason it's interesting when someone else tells us, but not quite worth discovering for ourselves.

You don't have to make a feature length film based on your daily commute - well, why not actually? - but why not have a look and let your imagination have a little play with your normality. Who the hell are these strangers you sit next to every day? Who is driving this bus, train or tram? What process took place to make sure my newspaper says today's news and is in my hands?What fine architecture do you walk past every day? What wonderful designers created the city that you work in? What would you be looking at if you were a tourist here? Tourists see your normality as you see theirs: something worth travelling for, memories and photos for the kids.

The National Statistics Office this year asked commuters how they feel about their lives and compared their answers to home workers'. Commuters were notably more anxious and not looking forward to the next day. I'm not telling you to work at home; that might not be an option. But trying to make your commute more like a holiday, with things worth noting and learning about, might just be within your control. Seriously, if Ricky Gervais can make a whole film out of Cemetery Junction in Reading, (down the road from where I grew up) then you can find at least one positive on your journey to work tomorrow.

Have a go. Let me know on Twitter @_riut


The Riut bag - rucksack for commuters and city dwellers - is unveiled and available this autumn for 30 days only via Kickstarter, crowdfunding website. Give your views on rucksacks and register to find out about the Riut bag when it is released.