I’m writing this blog post from a really hot bus – that’s “hot” as in the temperature not “hot” as in sexually alluring, I’m not particularly attracted to busses; well, apart from the 93 from Middlesbrough to Scarborough, but then who wouldn’t be? As regular readers will know-ever the optimist-I tend to write my blog entries from busses on the way to and from work, which gives me plenty of writing time since I spend 4 hours a day on them. Although I haven’t blogged for a while, I have still been doing a lot of bus travel. The reason for my lack of bus based blogging is to do with a newly acquired gadget that I’ve been using addictively. It’s a satnav. It may seem a little strange that I should be using a Satnav at all given that I am blind and can’t drive, never mind the fact that I use it on a bus, but this particular satnav is especially designed for blind people. Rather than the satnav voice just telling you to turn left or right like the boring satnavs you bland sighted people use, blind satnavs are much more exciting; not only do they give directions but they announce all the street names and the types of buildings you pass. On a practical level, the satnav has in all honesty revolutionised my life. I can now travel to new places all by myself without needing to know the route or continuously ask people for directions. It also means that I don’t have to ask people to tell me when we get to the bus stop I want to get off at, and any technological device that reduces the need to talk to pesky people is obviously very worthwhile. To try and put the amazingness of the satnav into perspective: I visited my friend Ben recently in York. By the help of the satnav I located Newcastle train station, then got off the train in York and walked a 20 minute walk in a completely unfamiliar area to be successfully guided to Ben’s house. I can even record my own landmarks such as bus stops so that I know exactly how to get to places that aren’t on the standard map installed on the satnav.
So it does have immense practical value. However, I must confess that I have been using it needlessly to the point of it being an addiction. When I’m being driven to places by a friend or in a taxi, I will turn on the satnav and listen intently to the names of the streets. During this quality time with the satnav I tend not to join in with conversation around me and ignore what people are saying to me. I seem to find street names more interesting than the nonsense my friends go on about. I suppose it’s the thrill of the whole thing-the adventure: Will we turn left on Bernard street or right on to Albert Street? I can feel my heart rate increase as we get closer to the turn, as the anticipation builds. I’m sure you all know the feeling. Just writing about it makes me feel excited! It’s not just the street names that I get though (although this would be enough excitement for anyone) I also get the speed, distance travelled, distance from my various landmarks (such as my pre-programmed bus stops) and of course the all important altitude.
But my addiction doesn’t stop there. I see no reason why I should stop addictively using my satnav just because of a small factor like the fact that I’m not actually travelling. The makers of the satnav have created their product with the crazed addict in mind. I can sit in the comfort of my own home while stationary, without the need for GPS coverage and replay the routes that I have previously travelled using the virtual mode. So I can be sitting in my home in Hartlepool and relive the rollercoaster of a journey that was the trip from my house to the venue that I did a gig at in Peterborough a fortnight ago: Every twist and every turn, every rise and drop in altitude, the increases and decreases in speed is mine to relive now and forever, over and over again. When I have children, instead of bedtime stories, we can go on virtual adventures together, reliving journey’s taken in year’s gone by: “This is your mother walking down the isle at 2.7 miles per hour at an altitude of 50 feet. She walks the 18 yard walk then makes an 172 degrees turn to face me”.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. I’m not merely limited to reliving the epic voyages taken in my past; I can also explore new routes that I’ve never taken before without having to actually bother leaving the house. I can programme in any destination and any starting point, which means I could travel from Buckingham Palace to the Blackpool tower without having to leave my house. Genius!
I must apologise for anyone who has travelled with me over the last couple of weeks for not listening to anything they’ve been saying and interrupting their attempts to converse with me with a cavalcade of stats about our speed, distance altitude, the names of the streets and the distance we are at any given time from any given bus stop in the area. It’s come as a bit of a shock to me, but not everyone seems to share my enthusiasm for these comprehensive commentaries-the continuously updating unexpurgated minutiae of the journey.
Perhaps I should mention the name of the Satnav and then this will constitute a professionally written review of the product. The company might even use this blog post as part of their literature. I see know reason why not.
It’s the Trekker Breeze from Humanware.
Unfortunately, the satnav addiction has not only affected my ability to blog but also my work on the next David Eagle’s Pick and Mix which I have yet to start.
This is David Eagle, travelling at a speed of 32 miles per hour at an altitude of 72 ft, signing off. O no! I can’t stop myself! Help!