The Long Way Round

What could be nicer than to live it up with a couple of friends, eat canapés (not part of my five a day), drink an immodest glass of wine, then work it all off with a stroll home along the river?  

“I’ll be back in time for Newsnight,” I texted.

Instructing Wanda (that’s setting a google map route) should never be attempted at a stride. A cursory glance for oncoming obstacles is still a skill I think I have. I don’t. A collision with a lamp post focused my concentration.

It was all going so well until I hit the south side of Vauxhall Bridge. I knew exactly where I was because Wanda told me so, and then she didn’t. “That’s the MI5 building for you,” the Flatmate said. “It plays havoc with your google.” 

Turning right into the Wandsworth Road, I began to wonder. “In ten meters turn right” So I did. Tesco never used to be there. I was properly lost but took the opportunity to buy a pint of milk. “In fifty meters turn right.” I did as Wanda commanded.

I could have asked for help, but so certain was I that I could retrieve the situation I ignored the blindingly obvious google melt down and pressed on. “Turn right” google barked. I couldn’t work out where I was. Darkness meant my normal limited field of reference was now reduced to arms length.  I had no reference point to anchor my position. I walked into a wire fence. Wanda was having a hissy fit.

In retracing my steps, I was guided by how long I thought it had taken me since I last turned right. A man on a bicycle started circling. “Hey, Where are you going? Come back and talk to me.” I was not in the mood to risk it.

“Turn left,” my Wanda crackled, neglecting to mention anything about the possible pond or flooded fox hole that suddenly revealed itself. Then, a voice from nowhere said, “Hello “Madam. What are you doing here?”

Could those be guns I thought.

“Gentlemen,” I said, buying myself time to work if I was in trouble.  Armed Police I guessed. “Am I glad to see you.” I’m lost. Google has let me down and I can’t work it out because “I is blind”.” I waved my cane about a bit as proof, then fleetingly considered the wisdom of this move, remembering that cane users have been tasered for less.

“See over there,” the short one said.

“No,” I said.

“Look over there.”

“When I said I can’t see, I really meant it. I can’t see where I am going.”

“Over there,” he persisted.

“I expect I’ll work it out.” I sighed. “I’m unnerved. I’ve just had an exchange with a man on a bike.”

“Well. If you’re wandering about on your own at this time of night, I suppose you have to expect that kind of thing.”

“I’m off kilter,” I burbled.

“Well no harm done. I should get home if I were you.”

A fat lot of use the Police turned out to be.

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