Thursday, September 12, 2013

My name is Clive and I am not a Map Addict

Front Cover

I meet Mike Parker a few months ago, the book seemed interesting, so it join the "to read" shelf.

As a fell runner, rock climber and long time mountain wanderer, maps are an essential  tool of the trade. There, see, I used the word "tool", so I  can't be  a map addict. I may have various other compulsive behaviors, but none of them involve maps in any capacity other than working out where to go.

My 1st post university job was at the Ordnance Survey in Southamptom. I was not cut out to be a civil servant and I woke up one morning 6 months into my life long tenure in a cold sweat having had a nightmare that I went into work thinking I was still 23, was shocked I had missed the majority of my life and was now being presented with a clock for my retirement at 65 and told to take the rest of the day off. I resigned that morning (I never tried to explain why, don't think they would have understood) and went to work on a farm back home in Wales before getting a most wonderful job in the computer science department at Aberystwyth 3 month later. 22 years on I don't regret in any way taking the dream seriously as an indicator of what my unconscious mind was worried about.

I read this book over about 2 months which is quite quick for me. Mostly a page or 3 at  bed time, some on a train from Boston to NYC and some on a canal boat in north wales.

 What made this book very worthwhile for me was the random, general knowledge that Mike come out with. not about maps, but places maps took him. I don't share his hatred of GPS/satnav, though I don't often use one for driving in the UK. I do use them as a last resort on the hills and on roads in the U.S, but I love both my android phone and Dakota 20.

 Towards the end of the book, it gets more philosophical. I need to get from North to South train stations in Boston, it did  prompt me to  undertake the mile walk Google maps directed, rather than use the metro. I encountered the Freedom Trail and in particular the New England Holocaust Monument, which at the time had profound effect on me at the time, one of those rich, random experiences which an unplanned walks across a city brings.

I am quite sure we see Cader Idris in quite the same way here, or here, though I know what he means about the sense of calm being on the top at night brings. During my Bob Graham addiction, Cader was one of my primary training grounds. Dog and I did 4 reps one day of the route described in the book and it was a different experience , almost felt like a different mountain, on each rep over 8 hours. I certainly have not become a poet as the myth cited in the book suggests and enjoyed just about every moment on Cader.

UK map are the best in the world, but my favorite map is not from my past employer which I say with some regret. Instead it is the Harvey's Bob Graham Round map.

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