Wednesday 4 April 2012

D is for Direction in "sense of". Quite simply, I don't have one. I used to say that I'd "lost" my sense of direction, until I realised it would be no different from saying that I'd lost, say, my pet mongoose. I don't have one (a sense of direction or a mongoose).

Whle most people know just where they are going, I often have no idea, and have frequently had recourse to the sun in order to assess my direction (overcast skies are bad news for people like me). I can't read maps, either. Rather like this character in one of my novels*:

'Towards the end of our journey, there was much discussion and consulting of maps, in the course of which Mum and the nice man from the chemist (not quite so nice, it transpired, when it came to the crunch) nearly came to blows.
“You said you’d do the navigating. I’m just the driver,” he pointed out, as they pulled into a layby to take stock.
“It was fine while we were going North. North is easy,” Mum said.
“What do you mean, North is easy?”
“You don’t have to turn the map round, with North. South is much more difficult. Everything’s upside down.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous! Nothing’s upside down. It’s perfectly straightforward. You’re just being a typical woman."'

And maybe it is (largely) a woman thing. Whatever. I can't do it.

The satnav was made for people like me. Nowadays, I sally forth, safe in the belief that at least one of us (the satnav) knows where we are going. Without it, I am lost, in every possible sense. I'm sure it's partly a self-fulfilling thing - you become what you think you are - but it's very alarming.

This week, we had to go somwhere new, and have recently acquired a car with its own satnav. This is complicated, so we brought the old one as well. One satnav is a woman; the other, a man. At one stage in our journey, the man was shouting "TURN AROUND WHEN POSSIBLE!", while the woman was telling us to "FOLLOW THE ROAD FOR SIX MILES!".

But between them, they got us there in the end. Phew. Needless to say, the map lay on the back seat undisturbed.

*The Birds, the Bees and Other Secrets


  1. It is my observation that extremely intelligent people have a very bad sense of direction. I, on the other hand, am very good at directions. Therefore...

  2. I have never possessed a sense of direction either, Frances. My husband is the opposite - he always knows which way he's pointing - and has learnt over the years to give me incredibly precise directions to anywhere I need to go on my own. He tells me all the landmarks I'll pass, instead of telling me about north and south or names and numbers of roads that I just can't relate to. I like looking out for odd houses and funny-shaped trees. I'm always amazed by how much detail my husband absorbs while he's driving. He's very focused. I'm more likely to be thinking about totally unrelated things.
    A sense of direction is something I shall definitely never possess. I'll try to trust Sat-Nav, but I find the voice annoying. I do love the idea of your two conflicting voices, though!

  3. I too have no sense of direction. When young, my daughters never asked me "Are we nearly there yet?", it was always "Are we lost yet?"

  4. So far, I have always found it easy to find my way, no matter where I was or how well (or not at all) I'd known the area before. Landmarks are important, yes, but they can be tricky, because a funny-shaped tree or unusual house can disappear or be altered beyond recognition, while (mostly!) towns, villages and roads retain their names and numbers for a while longer.
    Having said that, I don't drive, have never learnt it and have not the slightest ambition to do so; all my navigating happens either on my own two feet or a bike, or (rarely) when I am in the car with someone and need to tell them where to go.

  5. I'm okay as long as I plan ahead and write down the roads and junctions. I do this in a straight line down the page for easy reference. I think I might get lost on a long walk though.

    Love your humour Frances.

  6. I don't have a sense of direction either. I need to follow signs and can navigate, but husband can just follow his nose and get us there (usually).

  7. Kay - that's just what I wanted to hear!

    Joanna, be comforted by Kay's comment!

    Annne, I think I prefer that to "are we nearly there", which with my kids started almost before we were out of the gate.

    Librarian, you never struck me as the kind of person who would get lost. I think it's that tidy fridge...

    Maggie, that's all very well, until you have to negotiate traffic and study the page at the same time...

    Rosemary, that's what husbands are for.

  8. On the whole my sense of direction was adequate. I used the past tense because when I first went to Australia in the 90s I had real problems. Then when I came to live in New Zealand it took me 3 years to work out that it was because the sun was in the wrong place. At noon the sun is in the North! It affects my subconscious biological compass. I think the sat-nav is one of the best things since - well, since....