Maybe it’s time that the inability to remember how places relate
to one another on a map was classified as a disability. I freely admit that I am useless at world geography and even on a more local scale I cannot pretend, that when people refer to things like “The M4 Corridor”, I have the a clue what it is, let alone where it is.

It’s always been this way. As I kid I remember being so pleased
that I lived near 2 airports, Yeadon and Leeds/Bradford. How was I to know that Leeds/Bradford Airport was actually in a place called Yeadon and they were one and the same?  
I can stare at a map and see where things sit but it doesn’t gel in my memory and dissolves away. Now some people might think that this would be a drawback given that my job requires me to drive all around the UK. It’s not. This is all thanks to technology. I have Google maps for planning and a Garmin Sat Nav for getting me there (Other Sat Navs are available but this one has been worth its weight in gold to me so it can have some free publicity).

I have been scorned for my lack of geographical knowledge but I can’t help it, it’s just a blind spot. I can ride a bike, manipulate a spreadsheet, put up shelves, fix plumbing and loads of other useful things but I can’t get my head around the physical location of places.

I put it down to the 70s and, more precisely, to Public Information Films of the 70s. There is a huge chunk of my long term memory that is now unusable. It’s full of detailed information that was on TV during my youth. I am aware of The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water. I always Think Once, Think Twice, Think Bike. I know how to use a pelican crossing, call the coastguard (Cooee Petunia!) and dry my brakes after driving through a ford. I  could sing you songs about not parking on county roads (“Don’t go parking in that passing place, somebody needs that yard of space”) or about how to overtake when on a motorbike (“Lay back and ride wide) but I can’t tell you how to get from Nottingham to London.

Often when I am on my travels people make the mistake... No, let me correct that... Men ask me how I got here or which way I am headed next. They spill out numbers of roads or names of places. “Did you come through...”,“Did you come down the...”Usually I don’t have a clue and, to be frank, I don’t really care.  As a friend said to me recently it doesn’t matter as long I can get there and know what to do when you are there.

All I need is a postcode that I can punch in to my Sat Nav and then I follow a little line on the screen. It hasn’t failed me yet, so as long as we don’t get sun flares that kill the reception I will remain happily  ignorant as I drive around the country. Oh, and don’t forget, “Clunk Click, Every Trip”.

8/24/2012 08:10:19 pm

I certainly remember a time when we were trying to get to an LP conference and thinking to myself, 'why on earth am I relying on two northerners with iphones to get us there'.

8/25/2012 11:16:58 pm

Aye but that other Northerner had a bit more geographical savvy than me.


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