Should I give in and get a Satellite Navigation system for my car? I think they are over-priced, not particularly exciting, and shouldn’t be necessary in a well ordered universe. And I don’t trust a Sat Nav system to choose a safe route from A to B: far too many grossly inappropriate lorries have got stuck in the lane for me to think that Sat Nav’s safe.
On the other hand, is it unreasonable of me to expect maps offered by organisations to show roads clearly, using standard mapping conventions? Or to expect written directions to be complete and presuppose no local knowledge? It shouldn’t be unreasonable of me, but I have a horrible feeling it might be.
I spent a lot of time in the 1990s driving round industrial estates trying to find whichever company I was visiting at the time. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. (I remember Abingdon as being particularly time consuming for some reason). So I know that there never was a golden age. I have clocked up between 20,000 and 30,000 miles every year for each of the last 15 or 20 years, many of those miles on roads I didn’t know. I can read maps. I can follow directions. Well…. I used to be able to read maps and follow directions, but now I struggle with both.
Am I getting older and less capable? Is traffic moving faster and more scarily? Or are road signs less reliable, corporate maps less accurate and directions less well written? Or is it the fault of the internet, which provides us with ludicrously detailed and incredibly inaccurate directions and mapping? I finally realised that it was the internet, and not me, when I confirmed that the road numbers and directions I had for crossing Bristol from the M32 to Clifton stipulated junctions and road numbers that did not in fact exist in this universe. Perhaps in Lara’s, but not here.
So, given the shittiness of the alternatives, is it foolishly ludditte of me not to want to spend my next spare couple of hundred quid on Sat Nav?
Yesterday I tried to find a hotel between Glasgow and Edinburgh in the dark, using the map I’d printed off their website. I drove down a road that wasn’t marked on the map, counting roundabouts that didn’t exist on that road or any other, with no idea whether my destination was 500 yards away or 5 miles. Their map had no scale on it. Some genius had used circles to denote interchanges with slip-roads rather than roundabouts. Oh, and there was a road missing at one of the few actual roundabouts. The fact that the writing was too small too read was a minor problem compared with the mapping inaccuracies. To her credit, the girl on the desk wrote all my comments down and handed them in to the manager’s office. But. But…
Then today I spent two hours during rush-hour in Newcastle with irritable geordies up my arse, looking for a building for which I’d been given no street address, to be reached on foot after parking in a car-park which was not mentioned in the directions, on a road called Claremont Road on the map and Claremont Place on the street itself. I gave up in the end and decided I deserved better, so I then spent 45 minutes looking for the A1(M) (crossing the Tyne three times in the process) and drove home.
Am I whining? Am I being unfair? Am I expecting too much? If I buy a satellite navigation system will it cure my Manchester-induced tourettes?