This is my first foray into writing a book. It is based on 17 years of commuting to work by rail, and I was encouraged by my friends and family after regular Facebook rants about my experiences on the trains made them laugh. I am aiming it squarely as a gift book for commuters or a downstairs toilet book.

Sara Yirrell

Sara Yirrell

I have been a journalist for 20 years. I started out on local papers and finished on a specialist IT business magazine based in London before going freelance in 2017 to write my book. I have written thousands of articles and features over the years, latterly business based and very serious. My favourite local news story I ever covered was tracking the mysterious black panther of Northamptonshire over several months. We never did catch it.

My school teachers thought I would be a failure. I cannot take anything too seriously, and being constrained in a classroom or boardroom brings out the worst in me. I have to rebel. Every time I achieve something, I thank certain teachers for giving me the determination to prove them wrong.

I hate flying. My dad booked us a flight through the Grand Canyon when I was 14 and on holiday in Arizona. It was hideous – turbulent, noisy and the windows were huge. I hated every minute and managed to gouge holes in the seat in front of me. Ever since then I’ve hated going on planes. When your job required you to travel, as mine did – I learnt to face my fear head on. But I still get sweaty palms on take-off and landing.

I come from a huge Italian family (on my mother’s side) and I am very proud of my Italian roots, although I am the only one with ginger hair! Family and friends mean everything to me.

I love being with people and having fun, but huge crowds give me a panic attack. This wasn’t helped by the fact that some train journeys I took when commuting were so busy you could count your neighbour’s nostril hair and had nothing to hold onto.

Playing the ukulele is a real passion. I am in a local ukulele-based band covering everything from the 60s upwards, and I also co-run a ukulele club which performs at all sorts of local events. George Formby songs are banned when I’m around!!

I love gardening and I have my own allotment at the bottom of my garden where I also keep chickens. It is lovely working on the veg patch down there, hearing the trains go past beyond the railway bank, and know I don’t have to get on one every day!

Motorbikes are my preferred mode of transport over everything else. I passed my bike test nine years ago and it is the best thing I have ever done. However I am a fair weather biker and will only go out in dry weather, mainly because I like to keep my bikes pristine.

I have raised over £20,000 for various charities since I left education. I have abseiled off buildings, cycled 100 miles in day, run marathons and climbed mountains. Charities included Shelter, Macmillan, Bowel Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation, Mountain Rescue, and a local hospital cancer unit. Raising money for charity and giving is very important to me, and I have permanently scarred toes as a result of all my activities over the years.

I have a hair phobia! The thought of finding hair in my food (even my own) makes me feel ill. I can’t even bear seeing loose hair on the floor or a chair. And if a hair has fallen onto someone’s shoulder – then forget it. It has to go!  There used to be stray hairs on the train seats all the time which freaked me out. I carried tissues everywhere so I could remove them safely.