It’s fair to say that, although I have a number of natural abilities, a sense of direction is not one of them
To put this in context: I was born and raised in a small village in Kent that consisted of four lanes. One lead to the school, one to the pub, one to the church, and one to my house. Notwithstanding the simplicity of the layout, and the fact that I had lived there all my life, I would often set out for school only to find myself staring inexplicably at the pub some twenty minutes later.
Things got considerably worse when I moved to London. It’s not an exaggeration to say that if I am more than twelve feet from my front door, I am likely to be hopelessly lost. My solution was to learn specific routes around the city, but this has limited value. I can now get from point A to point B, but only using the route that I have learned. If I happen to find myself at point C, I have to return to point A in order to get to point B (even if points B and C are in fact next door to each other).
Fireman regularly attempts to give me directions, which always go like this:
Him: So you take the road towards London Bridge once you get to Elephant and Castle, yes?
Me: Eh? What? Look, have we MET? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never know what you’re talking about. Start again. PROPERLY.
A deep sigh will follow, accompanied by a look of exasperation, before he adopts the accepted method of giving me directions:
Him: Ok. Look. You go out of the front door and you turn LEFT. Got that?
And so it goes on, in minute detail, until we reach the destination. Which is very often less than a mile away.
Of course I was delighted when satellite navigation arrived, although I have driven into the back of several motorist while an increasingly impatient and disembodied voice chides: “Turn Around Where Possible” at me; and god help me if the sat nav can’t find my destination or loses signal.
Equally useful are maps on phones, although I am a poor map reader, making each journey frustratingly slow and I should point out by way of health warning that if you stare at them continuously you are likely to walk into lamp posts. Please note the plural. At least no one has to call out the search and rescue helicopter just because I’ve popped out for a pint of milk.
And so it is that I have at least one of these devices with me at all times, just in case. I get odd looks from friends and family as I plug in a machine that will navigate me all the way to the supermarket, but I’m beyond caring what they think.
At least these days I have a chance of returning home