“No, you shut up and let me read the sodding map.”

In an attempt to spend Saturday doing something ‘different’ (i.e. something that does not simply involve mooching around our local park) we have ambitiously embarked on a day trip to Greenwich. I’ve never driven to Greenwich before, and have no idea how to get there. It wasn’t until we had already loaded the buggy, the nappy bag, coats, hats, changes of clothes for everyone, snacks, the scooter, a potty (just in case) and both children into the car that we realised the sat nav wasn’t working. The screen was endlessly displaying a twisting white spiral alongside the words ‘Waiting for GPS...’, for all the world as if Samuel Beckett had got into the machine.

This was bad news, because Curly and I have fundamentally different approaches to navigation. I like to be told what to do, at least three steps ahead, and in a calm and decisive tone of voice. He prefers to wait until the very last second before saying something like, “you could take a left here or not if you’d prefer to take a right and go round the other way, it’s up to you.”

There is nothing more calculated to send me into paroxysms of expletive-laden rage than a car journey with Curly doing the map reading. Sure enough, now we are lost somewhere on the Isle of Dogs, I am infuriated, and in the back seat both children have begun to wail, with all the soothing effect of a couple of cheesegraters applied to the cerebral cortex.


“Wait!” Curly has been waving the gizmo pointlessly above his head. He now lowers it and peers and the screen, upon which a little spinning egg-timer has appeared. Then – oh miracle! – a tiny map, and a second later a well-spoken woman’s voice: “after 300 hundred metres take the next left, and then, stay left.”

Immediately, the atmosphere in the car lightens. The children are lulled into silence by the forward motion. Curly switches the radio on and hums along cheerily to Smooth FM.

“I think I fancy that woman,” he says, as I turn with brisk confidence onto the A13.

“Which woman?”

“The voice of the sat nav.”

“Oh her. Yeah, so do I.”

“She’s so calm and consistent, she never changes her mind.” I can’t help but feel this is a pointed remark.

“She so clear and knowledgeable, I know I can completely rely on her,” I retort.

The sat nav beeps. “Stay left, and then turn left. In three hundred metres you will reach your destination.” Right on cue, the masts of the Cutty Sark make a welcome appearance on the horizon.

If only there was an equivalent of sat nav to guide us through the other tricky areas of our family life: a sat nav child behavioural expert, say, or a sat nav financial advisor. Now there’s a bloody good idea. I should take it on Dragon’s Den, it could make millions. 

AuthorAlice O'Keeffe