Saturday, February 08, 2003

'cause I've got no sense of direction,
I guess I've got no sense at all
- Magnetic Fields: "All The Umbrellas In London"
I am not exactly blessed with an innate sense of direction. Ask me to choose the right way home, and you can be guaranteed I will choose - not just the wrong way - but quite the opposite way. Yet all the time, I will be 100% convinced I know I'm going the right way. You'd think, by now, that I'd know how unreliable my sense of direction is, yet every single time, I manage to convince myself that this time it will work out.

Tonight, I have walked. Walked and walked and walked. From Kings Cross to Kilburn. [Don't ask - I was drunk and annoyed, OK?]. I knew where I was heading, and how to get there. I mean, I really knew how to get there. 100% knew it, I tell you.

I started in N1, and wanted to end up in NW2. Even I can figure out that that's north-west. Easy: find north, then head up a bit and left a bit. Finding north was surprisingly easy - I stumbled, literally, upon York Way, which I - quite correctly - knew heads pretty damn well due north. So I headed up that for a bit, then left a bit. Up a bit, left a bit, up a bit, left a bit, all the time heading north west. Or so I thought. I was really proud of myself. Half an hour or so later, I spotted a big road. Excitedly, I wondered which main north-west artery this was - Haverstock Hill? Edgware Road? Finchley Road?

Er, no. It was York Way. Yes, the street I'd started on. In fact, after half an hour of walking, I'd managed to end up just six blocks up from where I'd started.

OK, never mind. A quick look at a bus-stop map showed that if I walked right a bit, up a bit, I'd be back on track. So I walked right a bit, up a bit, right a bit, up a bit. And found myself in Tufnell Park - miles east of where I wanted to be.

By this stage, any logical person would have called it a day. I had a Travelcard in my pocket, so could have got a bus. Hell, I had pockets full of cash and could have got a cab. But - no - I knew where I was, and knew how to get home. Quickly. And easily.

So I walked up a long hill - into Highgate. Lovely area, but miles north of Kilburn.

What next? Why, a "short cut" of course - a phrase which should strike fear into the heart of anyone hearing me suggest it. But I'm made of sturdier stuff, and headed into the upper reaches of Hampstead Heath. At last, an area I recognised. To my right, the gazebo at Kenwood House. Keeping the gazebo on my right, I picked my way in the dark, across the marshy grounds, skirting around the larger puddles, yet still regularly getting stuck ankle-deep in mud. Eventually, I spotted, directly ahead of me - no, that can't be right - the gazebo. Yes, I'd managed to come full circle.

Finally, an hour later, I am home. It is now 3:30am, perhaps three hours after I left Kings Cross.

This map shows the route I should have taken.

This map shows, as well as I can figure out, the route I actually took. My feet are sore. And muddy. Still, I've walked myself sober. Not unannoyed, though.

No comments: