Thursday, 17 July 2008

Lost In London?

I have a terrible natural sense of direction. I can have a map in my hand, I know where I am, but have great difficulty in working out how to get where I want to go. Geography was my worst subject at school and, it seems, things have not improved with age! When it comes to specifics I am useless! My realisation of this fact hit home a few weeks ago when trying to find the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. There are handy little maps in the London Pass Guidebook clearly showing the various locations and I was confident that from Westminster tube station I’d have no trouble finding the museum.

Looking at the same small map now I cannot understand what the problem was. I always carry a London A-Z too but that confused me more as I walked across the road, following a stream of tourists looking at the Houses of Parliament and badgering Policemen for a souvenir photograph. If the policemen hadn’t looked so hassled I might well have asked for directions but it seemed so foolish in my own capital city! I could see Westminster Abbey, was looking at Parliament Square (I think!) and yet I couldn’t work out which road to follow! In the end, I took a guess and just happened to get it right. My pedestrian panic always seems so ridiculous upon safe arrival yet the same thing happens over and over again. I simply cannot read a map effectively when I am on foot!

Having said all that, thankfully I do have a rough idea of the general layout of London, the major landmarks and how to get from one area to another. It is only precision directions where I fall down. So when, more recently, two Spanish men stopped me near Big Ben and asked where Trafalgar Square was I was able to give them clear directions in my best Spanish! A couple of hours later I was a little concerned to see the same two men rushing towards me across Trafalgar Square - either my general directions were wrong or my Spanish was worse than I suspected! As we came face to face they were grinning and exclaiming “Gracias, gracias Señorita” as though I had done something really special for them! In return, my pleasure was not garnered from helping someone in London with less idea than me but, in my mid-thirties, from being given the title Señorita! It made my day. Viva Londres!

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