Christine Grahame: I’m convinced getting lost is genetic disorder

Reading a map only helps if you have it the right way up. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Reading a map only helps if you have it the right way up. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The ability to drive unknowingly in the wrong direction and having to read maps upside down is definitely inherited, says Christine Grahame

Now I am not talking about the outcome of the EU referendum, nor am I talking about not knowing what you want to do/be in life with a capital “L”. I’m talking purely and simply about having a genetic tendency to get lost.

For example, recently I set out for Linlithgow Academy. I left Parly at 5.30pm having studied route maps and confidently sallied forth across the Forth arriving in Dunfermline.

I sort of knew then something had gone wrong. Back across the Road Bridge and then I took another wrong turn thus arriving in Livingston. A despairing phone call for help and I was off again via Broxburn, Pumpherston, Midcalder and other places hoping to see a “Linlithgow” sign.

I have to tell you, there are none and by 8.15 I was back to my starting point, vowing to succumb to a satnav. Now you are asking, how could I not find Linlithgow? Easy, peasy, as it follows on from not finding Falkirk some years before. I also once ended up in the centre of Glasgow, thankfully on a quiet Sunday, trying to find Ayr. That time I took my directions from the location of the sun.

Then there was the time I suggested, being navigator, my brother and I return from Tweedsmuir to Edinburgh after a constituency tour via Queen Mary’s Loch. We passed an old sign which indicated the route to the Loch but I dismissed it as historic, confidently announcing there was a more recent sign further on. There was but it was to Moffat hence we were travelling South not North.

Speaking of going South not North I think as I have said it is genetic therefore NOT MY FAULT. I recall my late father navigating from Dunoon to Edinburgh via the scenic route through Argyllshire practically filling the mini I was driving with a map, which kept being rotated and expanded until I asked him what he was doing. “Loch Lomond’s on the wrong side of the car” he pronounced. I even went another mile or so before I twigged what he 

Now in confessing my lost Linlithgow to others I have uncovered a wheen of folk who also have no sense of direction: the woman whose husband drove car and caravan through a field of maize expecting to find a gate at the other end. It was a hedge and he had to reverse out of course; the chap who told me he ended up somehow in Climpy (look it up on Google) in the middle of a scarecrow competition, so it is not always bad news.

But having no sense of direction doesn’t stop at roads. Oh no, I can guarantee in unfamiliar surroundings without an escort I will make for the door which leads to a cupboard and not the exit. I join the wrong queue in shops which looked fine until the sales assistant switches on the red light for supervisor assistance or an item is without the crucial bar-code.

These are the little things in life which test us but you might also ask how many relationships have been brought to breaking point by flawed navigational skills. Anyhoo, I have now purchased a satnav with a big screen and lots of start–up instructions in small print and lots of languages... Did I tell you I’m not good at reading instructions?

• Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale