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Andy Hirst: Nothing Academic about this visit to Manchester

I’VE resisted the temptation so far to get modern and invest in a sat nav.

I’VE resisted the temptation so far to get modern and invest in a sat nav.

After all, don’t all modern phones now have them? Mine doesn’t, although the photo on its screen is the kids from seven years ago – and the phone wasn’t new when I took it then.

So a steam-driven phone and a car that’s never likely to have a sat nav stuck to its windscreen can be something of a recipe for disaster.

And the prime city for things to go wrong for me is none other than Manchester.

My teenage daughter Sally loves rock bands and many of them seem to head for the Academy in Manchester, clearly in a cleverly crafted conspiracy to keep getting me lost.

Now I can get to the Manchester Evening News Arena – that’s a doddle. Straight off the M62 at junction 17 and follow the A56 right to it past the lovely Strangeways and there it is next to Victoria railway station.

Easier still, get the train from Slaithwaite to Victoria, walk up the steps inside the station, you’re right there in the MEN arena and Robert’s a close family relative. Sorted.

My problem is Manchester ring road, the lack of signs for the Academy and a city I just don’t know.

The first time I went to the Academy, despite the beautifully prepared AA routeplanner printed from t’internet, I couldn’t follow it at all and went round the ring road, then through the city centre and round the ring road again before happening upon the theatre of Sally’s dreams more by chance than judgement.

If you know Manchester no doubt by now you’re shaking your head in disbelief as to how anyone could possibly get lost there.

Just to rub it in even more, I’ve now discovered that the Academy’s next to Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital yet I still can’t seem to see my way clear to get straight there and home again.

For me it’s hard enough to find, but virtually impossible to get back onto the A56. I’ve ended up further down the motorway before now towards Liverpool before heading home.

The last time I went for it, determined to get back to the elusive A56 and ended up on the road to Oldham and the scenic route back to Huddersfield.

Trouble was it was 11.30pm at night and wasn’t that scenic. Just long, dark and lonely.

But am I really wise to invest in a sat nav? After all, things could get even worse.

A cab driver taking Earl Spencer’s daughter, Katy, to a Chelsea match ended up 146 miles off course in Yorkshire after a sat nav bungle.

Princess Diana’s niece and a friend were to take the cab 85 miles from Althorp in Northamptonshire to Stamford Bridge in West London.

But the driver’s sat nav directed him to the tiny village of Stamford Bridge in North Yorkshire instead.

Needless to say they missed the Blues earn a stunning 2-1 victory over rivals Arsenal.

And staying with the royal theme, a school bus driver ruined a class outing when he delivered a coachload of kids to a side street in north London instead of Henry VIII’s former home, Hampton Court.

The junior school’s outing had to be abandoned after the driver followed directions from Kent to the not-so historically significant Hampton Court in Islington instead of the Tudor palace at Richmond-upon-Thames

So what could go wrong with sat nav? A lot, it seems.

I’ll just try harder next time to sense the quickest way back home from ‘Madchester’.

 

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