THERE I was, reading about a survey that said six in 10 Britons had had a rant at the failings of their motor car's satellite navigation, when my mate Kev the Sparky got back from a trip to London raging about the thing.
“Sat nav?” he said. “In London? Forget it. It doesn’t seem to take into account road works or new diversions. It sent me barmy.”
Kev is not a stranger to the capital. He has worked there many times as a contractor. But on this occasion, he was heading to a destination he had not been to before.
“There I was in traffic and the sat nav voice said turn right. But on my right were blue boards closing the road and behind them a mechanical digger going at it 20 to the dozen.
“So I have to go straight ahead while it talks to me like a Dalek, saying it’s recalculating, and at the next T junction it says go straight ahead, even though I’m faced with a row of shops.
“Recalculating? I almost ripped it off the dashboard and threw it at a wall to recalculate it. I was very close to getting a branch off a tree and beating the car to death with it.”
Time was running out for Kev to keep his appointment and he hadn’t a clue where he was. To say he was a bit miffed is an understatement.
But being miffed is, apparently, not an unknown feeling among the many drivers who use sat nav.
A recent survey said the top complaint was that the device had taken them in the wrong direction. Half of users moaned that the route planned wasn’t the quickest. Other beefs were that the thing tended to fall off the windscreen or dashboard, and that its voice became annoying.
Especially when sending you the wrong way.
Even so, 25% of users admitted they followed the instructions it gave blindly, wherever they might lead.
But Kev had tried that and got nowhere.
“What did you do?” I asked him.
“I used an old Northern contractor’s trick,” he said. “When in doubt, take a cab.”
“But you were driving.”
“No problem. I was alongside a black cab in traffic and asked the driver if he knew the place I wanted to get to. He said yes; it’s not far away.
“So I asked him to drive there and I'd follow and pay him when we arrived.
“He led me down side streets and a back alley and there we were. No problem. He asked for four quid but I gave him a tenner. I said it was worth it because I had been on the brink of going mad.”
So that’s the answer, then. If lost in London, forget the sat nav. Hail a black cab and follow it to your destination.
Northern sense for down South.