Welcome to the life of a Greg. Every morning, for five days a week, I inhabit the rickety, sweat-filled 7.32 train across to Manchester for 62 juddering minutes. Surrounded by what I can only assume to be a plethora of Gregs in their uniform of a grey suit, grey tie, black shoes, we ride together solemnly and silently. Fidgeting now and again, we jostle along with the train’s movements as one.

But not me, not anymore; the misery ends today. This affliction will haunt me no longer. No longer shall I be one of these lifeless chumps by whom I now find myself surrounded. You fools! Can you not feel the tedium of your lives? Do you not see the meaninglessness?

Wake up!

It's time for a new name. A new name, a new life. But what name should it be – what name is really Me? I could be Ignacio, the imperious. Hawthorne, the heroic. Reuben, the rascal!

How about Keith?

Keith! I know anything is a step up from Greg, but Keith? Well, for now you'll just have to call me Not Greg.

Hang on. What am I doing here? This is no place for me, for Not Greg. I've got to be out there, in the real world! But I can hardly do anything about that right now; I am trapped in this numb, Greg-filled metal tube. Well, what should I do when I get off then? I'll have to plan it – does Not Greg make plans? Maybe Not Greg is the spontaneous type. How should I know how to be spontaneous? This is all new to me.

Okay: spontaneity. Spontaneity. Perhaps if I walk about a little something will come to me. Here goes. Take a good look everyone. Experience for a moment what it is like to be in the presence of a Not Greg. Steady now, Not Greg, keep hold of the chairs. Where shall I go? There's not really anywhere to go on a train. Just to the end. The automatic door is getting larger, closer. Click, hiss. Open, I can go through. It's calmer here. There's nobody about, no chairs – only a door to the outside world and a window through which to see it.

Oh my goodness. I've never seen anything so green, so brown, so raw. Those hills, they're full! Full of gnarled trees, prickly bushes, gentle people – life! This is where I need to be – where Not Greg needs to be. It's all moving so fast and brilliantly. Now is the time. I can almost feel it on my skin. The real world. I am going out there. How do I open this door? Click, hiss. A roar! The wind beating on my face. I can smell the hills; I can feel their cool breath.

Greg, wait!

It's Not Greg, damn it! Haven't you been listening? I am Not Greg, and I’m going to get to those hills.

Artwork by Ellie McCaldin


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