We decided one time to visit the little countries starting with “L” on one of our regular journeys between Slovakia and the UK. So a satnav would be useful, we thought. But I prefer maps any day! I can spend hours reading an atlas of Europe, planning routes and working out where we are near, enjoying the romance of place names and finding the best or most scenic route to take. You can’t have a relationship like that with a satnav. So I am firmly on the side of maps, but whenever I ask my wife to navigate she goes into a blind panic and it ends up in cross words! Is there a term, like disgeographia, for this quirk? Sadly I also argue with Satnavs. Which all goes to show that you can have some sort of relationship with the beast.
We are a family of three; myself, Tash, and our daughter Mollie (who now uses her middle name, Iona), but sometimes we are four. The fourth is Marilyn, our Satnav. She has taken through fifteen European countries with a rather varied level of success, it has to be said. Occasionally I needed to play assertive father with my equally assertive three-year-old, but with Marilyn I am only just learning. Having worked out that I can fool her by omitting house numbers and giving road numbers as via points (Marilyn, that is, not Iona), I keep her off Swiss motorways, which cost a year’s worth of vignette, even if you’re only there for a day. It probably said all this in the manual, but real men, as the saying goes, don’t read the instructions. Mollie/Iona, who at the time was living in a totally pink world of princesses, fairies and big bad wolves, was totally convinced that Marilyn was a real person. At times family members have disagreements; Marilyn is no different, especially when she tries to send us via Switzerland and its wretched motorway fees. She bangs on about the “highlighted route”, with me shouting, “WE ARE NOT GOING TO SWITZERLAND, MARILYN!” This gives Mollie the chance to indulge in her damn-beloved “Why?” questions.
“Why is Baba cross with Marilyn? Why Marilyn her not answer me, Mama? Why Marilyn want us to go there?”
Eventually Mollie elects to support the black box, shouting at me on her behalf.
“Baba! You made Marilyn sad! Now I’m very cross with you!”
Marilyn, goes silent. For some reason there are no more voice commands until Belgium. I think Mollie may have been right about Marilyn being real. She is actually sulking! I wonder what she is wearing and how old she is? Tash, for her part, and because this musing was unfortunately vocalized, will tell you that this is all just part of a mid-life crisis. But I‘m still with Mollie when it comes to Marilyn. She is real to me.