By Chris Sweeney | Published on 11 January 2019
I kid you not - I nearly fell off my chair when I got the phone call asking me to be involved with this project. Southern wanted to celebrate the transformative power of journeys and needed help telling stories of positive transformations that can happen on the commute and in the communities up and down the network.
Well, I spend a lot of my time on the Southern line from London to Brighton. More than a person should probably should, and I also love sharing people’s stories, so consider myself amply qualified for this role.
I use the London to Brighton line of Southern Rail as a mobile office. Not the normal use of a train line I know, but there is something about being on a moving train means that I can focus on my writing in a way that I have never been able to match on solid ground. So every time I have a writing deadline, I pack my bag and hop on to the 8.43 from Victoria and go back and forth from London to Brighton all day until my work is done.
As a little break from my work I will sometimes get out at Brighton at the end of a leg of the journey and go for a little explore in the antiques shops or sit on the beach and think about how I can get 6 kitchen chairs back to London from one of the antiques shops. I love Brighton, it is a truly progressive place - you can be whoever you are there and you will still feel accepted. But aside from Brighton many of the places on the Southern line remain unexplored by me. In between eagerly typing my way towards a deadline, I’ve often looked out at the countryside zooming by and wondered what stories those stations and towns hold. And then I’ve remembered I’ve still got a deadline to hit.
So when I was asked by Southern to do a project celebrating stories of transformation around one of their train lines, I knew immediately that I wanted to get out in to the areas I pass through the whole time on the London to Brighton line and find stories that you guys will love, doing something I love… interviewing people.
My favourite thing in the world is hearing people’s stories. Sit and chat to anyone for a while and you will hear a great story if you ask enough questions. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to bring you a broad range of inspiring stories from diverse communities between London and Brighton. It’s a stretch of the UK that is both fascinating and inspiring, and I am really excited to be showing you a broad slice of that, so that you could go and explore more of them yourselves or get involved in some of the topics we are going to cover.
The one thing uniting them all will be the idea of transformation. People who have done incredible things, and by doing them have changed their lives. Think of them as bitesize chunks of inspiring, funny, truthful stories to brighten up your commute. Visit back next week and we can get started on this exciting journey. And guess where I’m writing this from? You guessed it. Coach 3 on the 08.43 from Victoria to Brighton.