Mapped Out

I turned 40 in the summer, a time for taking stock and giving thanks for the many great gifts I have in my life.

Also, less inspirationally,  a time for making my peace with  the ones I never will have.

I would love to be able to sing, but I have a voice which my (singer) father likens to a bucket full of broken bricks. I would love to be able to draw, but I’ve never really got beyond the highlight of my junior school days and learning to make a house look 3D. Ish. And I would love to be able to find somewhere on the first attempt without getting hopelessly, tearfully lost.

It’s a shameful thing to admit to, being an independent woman of a certain age who can’t reliably follow a route she’s driven dozens of times without taking a wrong turning. Or to be the one who, even with the benefit of a SatNav, drives round and round the periphery of a destination while her children chirp merrily from the backseat “are we lost again, Mummy?”

It’s such a pathetically, stereotypically GIRLY affliction to suffer from, even though I know it’s less to do with the contents of my pants than the propensity of my brain to wander off at a tangent when presented with anything other than the written word. It is so much a part of me that I would say it was my calling card, on those rare occasions when I arrive where I’m aiming for without a sweaty, unplanned diversion on the way.

I can read maps, sort of, in the abstract. But give me a streetplan and ask me to relate it to what I can see before me, and it may as well be the sort of masterpiece I used to get home from nursery: random strands of spaghetti, held together with poster paint and glue. Worse, in a kind of cringing shame that I am not better at this stuff, I refuse to ask for directions and plough on, willing myself to develop a beagle-like instinct for sniffing out my destination.

Newspaper reports last week suggested that the risk of developing dementia is higher for those with a dark sense of humour and those who struggle to follow directions. I may not be able to find my way to the local garage, but at least I can see my future: laughing my head off, as I forget where I’m heading even as I fail to get there.

In the meantime? I’ll just have to stop swearing at my SatNav in the hope that she one day will tell me where to go without my ending up marooned in a bus lane or faced with a No Entry. Or get my daughter to do it for me.





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