I recently traded in my aged Nokia for an iphone.*
It’s so tech it would probably do the washing up if I knew how to ask, which I don’t, so mainly I use it for navigating around London on my friend’s bike. It’s very safe. I hold the phone in my left hand and look at it with my left eye whilst my right hand does all the steering and braking and my right eye looks over my shoulder for buses. So far so good. But there’s a problem. The navigation app I downloaded for free (M8) has a personality disorder. I spot this because I have the exact same personality disorder. It’s called regret.
In a nutshell, whenever I make a mistake M8 insists I make a legal U-turn, so I can go back to where I was before I made it and do the same route all over again, but getting it right this time. The problem is, the roads are all one-way. Even if I do survive going backwards down them I end up wasting at least as much time as I would have done if I’d just found a whole new route from where I was when I realised I’d got lost.
I try to explain this to another friend, who I’m meeting for coffee. I’m an hour or so late. I blame M8.
‘I knew I shouldn’t have gone back over the river.’
‘What’s Peckham like, anyway?’
It always amazes me how little Londoners actually know about London.
‘You should try Tom Tom.’
For a nasty moment I thought she was steering me towards a dating site. Another sad fact of being almost 35. (For the record, I am perfectly happy freewheeling. But loose females are suspicious, like unattended bags at airports, and I find myself constantly encouraged by government, advertisers, friends and enemies to please SETTLE DOWN….)
‘When you go wrong with a Tom Tom they don’t tell you to do illegal U-turns, they just re-plan the route from where you’ve ended up. So as long as you know where you’re going, you’ll always get there, it just might take a little bit longer.’
(OK, my friend didn’t actually say that, but you see where I’m going with this…)
I’m nearly 35 and I’ve only just got around to recording my first album and publishing my first book. The slowness of my progress has been keeping me awake at night. I’ve been trying to work out what the hell I’ve been doing for the past ten years, because I’ve always known deep down that this was my path. And I’ve been lying there in my shed wishing I could go back to the start of this path and take it again, but without getting lost in a maze of love affairs and surf trips and trying to find the money to pay my car tax and beautiful sunsets and crap telly and Facebook and growing vegetables and partying and playing records and buying second-hand guitars on back streets in Lima and, you know, just generally LIVING, which takes time.
It’s confusing. If I hadn’t done all this I might have got to this point on my path at 25. Which would probably have made me more marketable. But then again, I’d have had a lot less to sing and write about.
I got lost again on the way back to Peckham after meeting my friend. This time I left M8 in my pocket. It took me about an hour longer than it should have, but I got there in the end. I saw some things along the way. Memorable things, beautiful things, ugly, inspiring, frightening, random, bizarre things, such as banks made in the image of penises. Things I would never have seen if I hadn’t been lost, or if I’d had my left eye stuck to my phone and my right eye looking over my shoulder to see if it was safe to make a legal U-turn in order to go the wrong way down a one-way street.
*second-hand iphone – the mobile phone industry leaves a trail of human blood and environmental disasters – probs not worth it?