‘You know you’re no good at this sort of thing!’
For years, I believed this kind of slur, and its many siblings; in fact, to me, it was a truth almost Biblical in its resonance and terror-factor.
Now? I am rebutting the slur and proving that I am far more capable than I might once have thought (and been told!).
My sense of direction is, shall we say, a tad rudimentary. In fact, it is a bloody miracle that I managed, fifty-nine years ago, to navigate my way out of my mother’s womb!
This natural lack was compounded, when I was at grammar school, by my tendency to drift off in lessons I found boring, difficult or both. I don’t mean I fell asleep; I simply went into an alternative universe rich in imagination and singularly lacking in tedious teachers!
As a result of this, although my Geography exercise books were beautifully neat and accurate linguistically, I never learnt to read a map properly and, to this day, have only the vaguest of ideas as to where places in our world are located. If you ask me for directions, I will be worse than useless – and, when asked which direction my garden was pointing, I was stumped until a kindly mattress-deliverer enlightened me.
I am, in short, the kind of hapless party who undoubtedly needs a compass’ help in order to navigate my way to an unfamiliar toilet!
Now, in a new life which involves a new town and regular visits to completely unknown schools, this natural directional vagueness has segued into actual, and highly embarrassing, constant lostness and borderline lateness: I am having to set off ridiculously early in order to avoid being late, and always have to factor around half an hour in to my plans when I get to the town, village, hamlet or rural encampment in order to locate the actual school itself.
In fact, the only time I got to School A without this hassle happened when I did a test drive the day before and made my own weight in exhaustive notes! But with some schools up to an hour’s drive away from Terra Alienora, this reconnoitring of the route is not always practical, and costs a bomb in diesel as well as being decidedly dodgy on the old Carbon Footprint front.
It all came to a head yesterday. Many things did, now I look back. A day of multiple recognition, you might say.
I got to School D, yestermorn, in good-to-completely-anal time; in fact, such was my anxiety about sliding in just ere the bell went, I got there half an hour early!
The same could not, unfortunately, be said about my return journey. I started my merry trip by leaving the school via the wrong road, which meant I was heading in a direction which would eventually have taken me to places, like Yeovil, which, while I have nothing against them in principle, my desire to visit post triple bottom set horrors could be counted in negative numbers.
Having then returned to the school for a second go at leaving it (!), I managed – God alone knows how! – to get myself onto the A37 (which, in itself, was fair enough) and, once again, heading in entirely the wrong direction. Inspirational wrong-headedness, you might say! So, being sensible, I took a good old gander at the map. Despite my shortcomings, I always have one in the car – and have never given up my footling attempts at decoding the bloody thing!
Having done a twenty-nine point turn in a handy layby, I then, finally, found myself heading back to Glastonbury – though still on the wrong road! When I say ‘wrong’, I just mean that this particular stretch of tarmac involved a much longer journey and some most picturesque agricultural twists and turns which, at one point, caused a near miss when I turned a tight corner and was face to arse with a flock of sheep! Jamming the tiny lane, they were, and all bleating away fit to bust and spreading their anxiety all over the place as you might say.
I finally reached home, on a journey of fifteen paltry miles, an hour and a half after I set out! As I said in a later email to a friend, I could have flown to Inverness, and half way back to Bristol Airport, in that time! Humiliating doesn’t begin to describe it!
So, ensconced once more in my cosy home, and with the dog drained and fed, I went online and ordered a Sat Nav. It should be arriving today. Oh, the relief!
Two months ago (roughly the time I have been in Glastonbury), I doubted my every move – and, from IKEA flat packs to teaching, was convinced I had no aptitude for any of it. But, as I have discovered in the past weeks, lack of natural ability does not preclude a high level of stubborn bloody-mindedness and determination not to be beaten – and, if one way doesn’t work, I will flex my mental muscles until I find something that does.
Since I’ve been here, I have put together a bed side drawer and two under the bed numbers; I have installed a phone system and have now arranged for an alternative to maps which should, with luck, get me from A to B without time-wasting backtracking! Today, and having bought some wire mesh and pegs, I am going to sort out Pippa’s escapologist proclivities once and for all by bunny-proofing the garden!
Once Storm Doris has stopped having a hissy fit, that is!
Not bad for an ageing party who has, from the earliest days, been about as far from physically ept as it is possible to be!
Now we will find out whether my notorious inability to follow technical instructions causes the setting up of the Sat Nav to take hours rather than minutes. I rather hope it doesn’t: I am due at School E at half past arsehole tomorrow morning – and am hoping to avoid a midnight flit!