Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Joy Ride

About ten years ago, having recently passed my driving test, I went on my first solo road trip. It was nothing exciting: just a couple of exits round the M25 and down to Cambridge for an open day. But it was enough to require a supply of Tesco all-day-breakfast sandwiches and big sheaf of A4 paper bearing mysterious legends in 24pt bold Times New Roman*, to the tune of:

'JUNCTION 27, M11'

(I wish I had retained the 'Keep Left' one: I still have trouble in car parks).

But that was ten years ago. This is the age of technology. Now, we all have Sat Nav!

Sally SatNav is a poor companion on a long car journey. When we were small, the voices coming from the dashboard used to read us Five on Mystery Moor or Asterix in Egypt. Now there's only one voice, and it says:

After Eight Hundred Yards ... Keep Right

(and what precisely is the point of that? After 800 yards, do nothing?)

Or, more commonly:

Turn around when possible.

No explanation, no 'never mind, we all make mistakes', just a flat, cold acknowledgement of your failure to follow even the most simple instructions. Somewhere, there'll be a setting that incorporates an electronic exasperated 'sigh' when you're trying to reverse into a parking space.
Worse still, it wakes you from a cosy snooze by beeping in your ear to signal a speed camera. Jolly uncivilised if you ask me.

But I think our Madame GPS is taking her own kind of revenge. Recently she has taken to sending us on detours down slip-roads and laybys, as a charming alternative to the main thoroughfare. Tired of cruising down Beauly high street? Why not take a turn through the car park?
Worse still is her total lack of advance warning. Imagine you are in the lighting box of a small theatre. All your lights have codes, and you need to push the right button at the right moment. But you won't just get a 'Lights NOW!', oh no: first you'll hear 'LXQ 15... stand by' and then, a moment later 'LXQ 15 ... GO!'

Not so with Sally SatNav.
Ease your mind out of the lighting box. Now you're cruising in your car through the Scottish borderlands at dusk. Stunning views all around; one or two nasty drops too. 'More or Less' is playing on Radio 4 and you want to know why Have I Got News For You were the only ones to get it right about the interest rate cut. You're not really concentrating.

Turn Left!

She has a sense of humour, you have to give her that.

Incidentally, does anyone have GPS in Polish? What do they say most? Let's have a Polish SatNav word of the day! (Makes a change from trzy razy Zywiec)

*Because we ahhhr from Sevenoaks daahrling.


PRQ said...

The North American ones give you a harsh, terse "Recalculating" when you drive outside the coloured lines.

Mine does Polish, but I couldn't even begin to tell you what she's saying. Perhaps I'll post a recording.

scatts said...

My Polish nav is always saying things like "Co ty k***a zrobisz, do cholera jasna!".

I think that means "Take a U-turn when possible".

pinolona said...

PRQ, do you live in Poland or are you a Canadian-Pole? I'm a bit confused. I think the British GPSs are slightly more friendly. And, in their defence, they do quite happily let you drive through a field if it's a new road that's not on the map yet.

Scatts, my Polish satnav would say something like 'Po prawej strony! Po prawej! Kto k*rrrrrrrr*a ci dał prawo jazdy?!'

Actually I'm getting a weird sense of deja vu...

PRQ said...

Oh, I'm a Canadian exclusively. My GPS with its vast selection of languages is the closest I've ever been to Poland.

pinolona said...

Canadian? Are you a relative??

PRQ said...

Not a relative (that I know of!). Just a reader. I stumbled in quite a while ago-- at least a year ago? probably via the "next blog" link.

Also not Polish, alas.

pinolona said...

ah haaa you're a fellow blogger. I get it.

expateek said...

I think Ozzy Osbourne has a sat-nav package you can install... that would really be entertaining!! Again, though, difficult to understand.

Our Polish sat-nav does speak in English, with a rather posh Englishwoman who every so often audially morphs into a Polish woman. It all sounds very weird.

Berkshire accent: "At the end of the road, turn..." and then there's this weird gurgling sound and it's Ms Polska..."onto dee sleeeeep rote."
We have a laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY over this bit, because it's the way out of our neighborhood.

I know. Easily amused.

pinolona said...

tee hee hee! I don't think ours has slip roads: it just tells you to take a left. Maybe the Polish version felt they ought to add something and Ms Received Pronunciation was far away in Merrie Englande...

Happy Christmas!