After the completion of High Speed 2, writes Ellis

“Birmingham will be quicker to reach from central London than some of London’s own suburbs”

But he urges the avoidance of cheap journalistic squits about Brummie accents and the regional differences in taste. Instead he point much more interestingly to that intensely focused “third culture” that has developed among regular rail commuters…

“We’re the ones who have favourite seats in carriage B, can intuit from the point we step off the tube whether the 0723 is going from Platform 3 or platform 14, and develop an aching familiarity with the unique smell of a Virgin Pendolino train’s toilet. We split our days between the Bull (Ring) and (Shepherd’)s Bush slipping seamlessly between Queensway to Suffolk Street Queensway barely registering the 150 miles of twixtness between rattling through emails and hogging the Virgin wi-fi.”