Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Diary of Inconsequential Being

Saturday 25th March

I am on my way to collect my daughter. She has decided to go to Thorpe Park with some friends and one of the dads and I agreed on one of us taking them there and the other one bringing them back.

The journey to Thorpe Park goes surprisingly smooth. Too smooth. Just before the M25 meets the M3 I am supposed to take the fifth exit at a roundabout and stay on the A308. For some reason the route seems suddenly awfully long. I am sure it looked a lot shorter on the Google map I consulted before setting off (I don’t use satnav). I keep driving in what I think is the most likely direction. It takes me a couple of minutes to realise that I am hideously lost. I go back to the M25, taking extra care not to join the traffic heading to London. At the roundabout I perform a similar manoeuvre as before. Again, I find myself back on the A308. Again, I get lost.

Finally I pull into a Tesco (future novelists should make that sentence their go-to cliché. There is always a Tesco to pull into, just like “dusk” always “falls”). After a couple of enquiries and suggestions I decide to use my phone’s built-in Google maps app to guide myself to Thorpe Park. To be honest I feel I have no other choice. The two members of staff who help me out look at me as if I am mad after I say that I use neither a satnav nor Google maps.

The voice telling me to pull out of the car park cannot be described as robotic, but neither as human. It is not warm either. But then, again, what do I expect? Coffee and a chocolate muffin? I suddenly feel hungry.

After three quarters of an hour, during which I exhaust my year’s quota of swear words, I find Thorpe Park. All this time my daughter has been trying to get hold of me, concerned that I was not there at the appointed time. When I tell her what has just happened, she just asks: why didn’t you use Google maps?

Sunday 26th March

The papers still carry the Westminster attacker story. It is funny (both strange and ha ha) that Adrian Elms (to call him by his real name) is called a terrorist whereas Jo Cox’s murderer is being given the “lone wolf” label with mental health issues added on to mitigate the effect of his evil act.

The house is eerily silent. It normally is these days. Both my children have given up playing their instruments. My son used to play saxophone first and then went for the guitar. My daughter, on the hand, plumped for cello and later on for flute. There was nothing better than the sound of him playing guitar and her playing flute mid-morning on a Sunday.

Now they both sleep until noon.

I set up the ironing board and switch the telly on. I am being ever so careful and considerate. I know the girls went to bed late last night. As the first goals go in on Match of the Day, I hear the sound of rushed steps on the stairs and eventually voices in the kitchen.

The silence is broken (and that is another cliché for wannabe writers. No worries, I shall invoice you in due course).

Monday 27th March

I am now convinced that we have a birds’ nest in our bush in the front garden. Not being a connoisseur of tweets and songs, I am unable to say what sort of birds they are. All I know is that they sing at night. By at night, I mean, midnight. They must be fearless, too, because the local cats still have not dealt with them in the way that only cats know how to deal with midnight-hour-singing animals of the avian variety. Perhaps, although they sing beautifully (and I can attest to that), they can all copy the Google Maps voice, neither robotic nor warm. Enough to keep the local cats away.

© 2017

Next Post: “London Cycle Diaries”, to be published on Saturday 20th May at 6pm (GMT)


  1. Ah, family life ... I don't use a satnav or Google maps, but (on the rare occasions I hire a car and drive) I have OS maps. Probably useless when searching for Thorpe Park.

    And your bird - may be a blackbird, confused by light pollution and so singing at midnight. (and your children sound very normal!!)

  2. haha yeah, why didn't you just ask Google? lol

    Can't top family life, may have to teach those cats a thing or two about hunting though.

  3. You are anything but inconsequential. I too have had days like the ones you describe. Either you feel foolish or invisible. Learn to embrace those days... they can be some of your best times.

  4. Inconsequential? Not so but far otherwise.
    Loved these windows into your world.

  5. I echo Emma and Elephant's Child's comments.

  6. There is nothing inconsequential here...I sometimes feel like a total idiot and it was worse when I was driving as getting lost seemed almost inevitable to me. I chalk it up to being human and let it go most of the time now...Why have your children quit their instruments? That is sad. I have been looking for a guitar teacher for two years. I play for midnight warblers, they are lucky the neighborhood cats have found better things to do. I hope their singing continues to inspire you.

    Greetings from La Florida

  7. Once upon a time, I would check routes from Point A to Point B on a map, write a few notes and hit the trail. Now, I frequently check routes from Point A to Point B on a computer, write a few notes and hit the trail. When I choose to "live dangerously," I will pick out an "impossible to miss" landmark, such as Lake Michigan, and, depending upon where I am going, either turn left or turn right when I reach it. Usually works out fine. No navigation systems for me, either, CiL.

    I went through cornet, clarinet and drums before I hit paydirt. Do not give up hope ....

  8. I love these snippets into your life! (Hint - you can always use Google Maps on your smartphone. You don't need to have satnav.)

  9. Wonderful and enjoyable read today, Cuban. That's not to say your other posts are not, but you know what I mean. I guess Different is the word. To add to the list of night singing birds, I have a robin who serenades me at around midnight. I have a satnam and still get lost. In fact, it's misdirection got me lost and made me late for a funeral service. I didn't dare go into the church when the service was almost over so I went home instead. People have joked since on the lines that my deceased friend would never know ... but would she, I wonder!

  10. Whipowills and owls, both of which are in my neighborhood and they both sing at night. Sadly, yesterday, I was doing some yard work and while trimming shrubs came upon a cardinal's nest with fledglings. I put the trimming on hold and placed the fledglings that were knocked out of the nest back inside and after leaving the area noticed the mom and dad (the male has a beautiful red color, the female color isn't as bright) have returned.

  11. I love the bit about pulling into Tesco. So true! I gotta say, I use the maps app all the time to help me geolocate (great word!) during my urban wandering. I don't use the voice function, though, so I've never heard the neither-robotic-nor-warm voice of my phone. That's a GREAT point about Jo Cox's murderer. He certainly seems a terrorist of a type. I wonder if those birds are nighingales? I hope they stay away from the cat! (And vice versa.)


  12. We have at times surrendered to the robotic voice telling us when to turn but only to avoid fighting. My father taught me to read maps, real maps. One summer he gave me the task to design the route to our holiday destination incl. one overnight and three sight seeing detours along the way. He only allowed me maps to plan this. I have loved maps ever since. There is so much information on a real map. Satnav et al just get you from a to b.

    Thank you for pointing out the dishonesty in reporting about Jo Cox's murder. As if we are surprised.

  13. Tu hija preocupada con la espera y diciéndote que no habías usado la buena opción de busqueda, menos mal que al final llegaste a ella.
    Un abrazo.

  14. I always use Google maps with navigator on when travelling overseas. Especially if either of us is driving.

  15. Wonderful written CIL:))))))

  16. I knew I had that silly thing on my phone but I hate that tiny phone and I seldom use it for anything but talking. Then one day I was totally lost and so as a last resort... It did work and I've used it since, a few times. There is a comfort knowing that as long as that thing works and I can make it work, I am never really lost...well as far as my physical location goes.
    Thanks, fun post..

  17. I really enjoyed this post. It sounds like you were in a really chipper mood when you were writing it, and your sense of humor shone through.

    I empathize with you for getting lost. I am horribly directionally challenged, but I got it honestly. My parents were always getting lost, too.

    Have a super weekend.

  18. I enjoyed this window onto your daily life, internal and external. I missed the music too when my son stopped practicing the trombone and my daughter the clarinet.

  19. Hi Mario - family life ... I don't use a sat nav ... and mostly get where I want to. I was on my way to Penzance to see my mother one time - and ended up in Wales ... M4 straight on! When I got down the staff and my Ma asked why I was so late ... and laughed uproariously at my plight! Well done on keeping the noise down ... the blackbirds have moved into our gardens (probably did so a century ago!) and they sing very early in the morning ... the midnight owls I can't make a guess at ... lovely and so true to family time - cheers Hilary

  20. Sounds like a pleasant couple of days. It honestly make me miss my wife because she's the one I tend to enjoy long drives and gentle mornings with. That aside, curiosity strikes...why DON'T you use google maps?

  21. I'd guess your night singing bird is probably a blackbird, though possibly a robin.



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