Where is Drury Lane? Getting lost in London by Jon Woolcott

I’m not a practical man: simple DIY tasks fox me, I don’t enjoy ladders, electricity makes me jumpy. I’ll call for technical help when my printer runs low on toner. I have a handyman on speed-dial, a capable wife, and a nearby younger brother for whom these tasks hold no terrors. But for all this I find that one science, or sort of science, Geography, is my friend. It’s not all Geography – specifically it’s a sense of place. My sense of direction, if not exactly unerring, is well attuned to the compass points. I know where I am, and mostly, where I’m going. I love Ordnance Survey maps, whatever their scale, not only for their solid reliable practicality, but for the way they situate me so completely in any landscape, and for their often remarked-upon beauty. I can spread a map on the floor and pore over it for hours, bum aloft, tracing footpaths and rivers, marvelling over contour lines marking hills and steep sided valleys, wondering over derivations of village names, imagining the lost settlements marked in that ghostly gothic script. In short, I know my way around, and I am glad of it.

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