Consulting the Internet and the Chicken Entrails about Cornish Roads

I went to a meeting the other day, and I consulted the internet about it the night before. That’s the modern version of killing a chicken and consulting the entrails to find out how your trip’s going to go.

The internet entrails told me I’d need one hour and one minute to get there.

I figured I’d allow myself an extra ten minutes and be heroically early.

In the morning, I forgot about the ten minutes, but how many meetings start on time anyway? I punched the post code into the sat nav I stole from Wild Thing because I don’t believe in them unless I need one, in which case see I steal hers. That gives me access to both a sat nav and the moral high ground.

The sat nav spit the post code back out. I punched it in again. The sat nav offered me a list of alternative post codes, some of which were close but close wasn’t what I needed. I could find the town without the damned thing. What I needed was the final details.

mulfra 098We went through this several times until it accepted the post code. I will, of course, swear that I entered it correctly all sixteen times and that the sat nav was both pigheaded and wrong for the first fifteen, but you probably won’t believe me. I’m not sure I believe me either.

I was now going to be late. I was also now ready to accept that you can’t get from my house to Pool, where the meeting was, in one hour and one minute. And I’d kind of known that the night before, but I wasn’t ready to question the wisdom of the chicken entrails then.

I drove, telling myself I’d make up lost time. This was, of course, a crock. (A crock, my writers group tells me, is an Americanism. It may also be as out of date as I am, so if you need guidance, allow to me ask you, ever so delicately, to imagine what I’m implying is inside the crock.) Unless you’re on one of our few four-lane highways (or the occasional, very short, three-lane stretch), you have to be a whole lot crazier than I am if you’re going to make up time around here.

At the Pool turnoff, I realized that the sat nav hadn’t been speaking to me since I left the house. Why hadn’t I noticed? Because I don’t enjoy her conversation, so I hadn’t missed it. Our sat nav, by the way, is a her, and her name’s Dorothy, and she’s been losing her voice a lot lately. The last time it happened, Wild Thing fought with her until she started speaking again but she—Wild Thing, that is—wasn’t sure what she’d done, so I stood no chance of reproducing it. It involved a lot of swearing, which I can reproduce effortlessly, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the effective part. And I didn’t have time to wrestle with the sat nav anyway—I was already heroically late—so I drove into Pool trying to keep one eye on the little brown arrow.

Tell me, I begged the universe, that this isn’t a part of the county where sat navs don’t work.

I didn’t expect the universe to answer and it didn’t. Begging the universe is just one of those things I do to pass the time when I’m coming unglued. I fully expected the little brown arrow to direct me into an abandoned mine shaft or the frozen food aisle of the nearest supermarket. That optimism meant I was ready for it when the little brown arrow told me to turn where there wasn’t a street.

You can’t fool me, I told Dorothy, and I drove on.

The hell she couldn’t. The little brown arrow disappeared.

I turned around and tried again, somehow expecting to get different information this time. The little brown arrow still wanted me to turn onto a non-street, but it was at least paved, so I tried it and ended up in a supermarket parking lot.

I turned around before we got to the frozen food aisle and I drove back to where the arrow had disappeared, pulling into the parking lot of a small business. I walked inside and threw myself on their mercy.

They must’ve been used to this. Not only were they kind, they’d heard of the complex I was looking for and gave me usable directions.

“Sat navs,” I said, trying to look as befuddled as, in fact, I was. I felt—I have no idea why—that I owed them that.

“Sat navs,” they said, nodding and looking wise.

I got to the address, which turned out to be a Free Public Attraction (please note the capital letters, because they’re not mine; I’ve borrowed them from a sign I passed) about Cornish mining. With a not-at-all-free parking lot. I hadn’t counted on that and hadn’t brought much change, but I plugged in what I had, which was enough to carry me to the 11 a.m. break, when I might be able wangle change out of someone somewhere.

Or leave if the meeting turned out to be as pointless as I sort of suspected it would be.

I could probably have used my phone and credit card to pay, but (remember the internet and the chicken entrails?) I was late.

So in a gentle Cornish mizzle, I walked in through what must once have been a working mine complex and now that the mining’s gone is a tourist attraction. I thought melancholy and ironic thoughts about hard, dangerous work and low pay and tourist attractions but didn’t have a lot of time for them because I found the right building and went into a tasteful and (I assumed) expensive modern lobby where there was no sign pointing me to my meeting, only one saying Memory Café.

You know about memory cafes? They’re for people with some degree of dementia, to orient them to I have no idea what. Reality, I suppose, which at the moment didn’t strike me as a particularly wondrous gift.

I found an office and asked a woman about my meeting. She gave me a blank look. I produced my agenda.

“That’s tomorrow,” she said.

I could have gone to the memory café but reality wasn’t looking particularly good so I drove home.

30 thoughts on “Consulting the Internet and the Chicken Entrails about Cornish Roads

  1. Your writer’s group are a bit quick to throw ‘crock of …’ back across the Atlantic. True, it does sound ‘American’ these days – along with bull**** etc, but the crock and its contents are both honourable Old English words. I suppose they’re out of fashion over here.

    You could start a fashion among the local youth of your village – enigmatic posters at bus stops? pay some performance poets to include it in their verse? well targeted tweets to the local youth club? – and stealthily plant the seeds for its revival as an evocative phrase.

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  2. I have just this moment finished an email to a friend who yesterday had to endure any number of hiccups on her way to and through a colonoscopy. Here’s my cut and paste reply:

    You know, I think it would be helpful to have a calendar with the moon phases. We just had a full moon (HA! how funny, speaking of exposed bottoms). If I had the luxury of timing, I’d avoid scheduling anything during a full moon, or at the very least allow for extra fubar time.

    Just think, now you have the pleasure of repeating the trip!

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  3. I truly love the many foibles and futzes my blogging friends endure because your well-described misadventures bring me such belly laughs (also not good when connected to Maggie’s hiccup and colonoscopy reference).

    Uncanny how much our thoughts and reactions are alike would I have been you in your tale. (Throw it out to the universe and what not)

    Our sat nav is Sylvia. She’s only gotten mixed up a couple times, and I’m positive we frustrate her far more often than the reverse. But she doesn’t swear or mutter ‘crock’.

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    • I think I’d like ol’ Dorothy better if she did swear. As it is, I have to do all the swearing for both of us while she repeats, in a monotone, “Turn around when possible.” So I ask you: Which of us will strike a casual observer as unreliable?

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      • Sylvia says “Make a LEGAL u-turn” because otherwise all us idiots would sue after being ticketed for an illegal u-turn that Nav System didn’t warn us about. You know how we Americans love to sue :-)

        I certify that YOU are completey reliable and sane. But consider the source of the certification.

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  4. Oh god I love this! I am not the only getting the dates wrong, then, am I! Unfortunately, my speciality is swapping the dates the other way around, i,e. turning up a day late. This is why I always double and triple-check nowadays any appointments I have. As for the sat nav adventure, that’s classic. Plus, as you know from one of my older comments, it ALWAYS bloody abandons me the moment I actually NEED it.

    Hope you did bother going to the meeting on the following day, though – did you??

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    • I did go the next day. Most of it was as pointless as I’d thought (in my cheeriest mood) it might be, but for about 10 or 15 minutes of conversation during the break, it was probably worth going.

      I haven’t written about this and I really do have to, but to add to the fact that I’m stretched too thin and therefore not double checking anything (and am screamingly incompetent at anything involving numbers), American-style dates work Month/day. British and European ones reverse that: Day/month. I’m not sure what the rest of the world does. As for me, I use both systems, so unless one of the numbers is 13 or higher, I can never be entirely sure what I meant.

      It’s downright scary inside my head sometimes.

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  5. I find it equally confusing to use the American-style dates (funny enough, this is exactly what I have been doing today, reporting 70-80 students’ study start and end dates to the US Dept Edu – nightmare!). You don’t want to be in my head, trust me! :-)

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  6. Very amusing but I sympathise too. I used to have trouble with the half-hour in Germany. ‘Half seven’ is actually half TO seven. I got into the habit of confirming with a “so x thirty?”

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  7. Funny, yes! Funny, no! How many times did I say, “Shut-up Charlotte” to my sister’s GPS (US) while on holiday together this past summer. I ended up talking to her as a person, which made for a lot of laughs!

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