Fool’s Progress: A Lesson in Getting Lost

I’ve been feeling somewhat lost lately – spiritually and materially. I suppose it’s a natural state of being at my age – then again, I’m sure everyone experiences it at different times in life. However, today I was more than just lost in an abstract way, I was really, well and truly, round and round in circles lost.

It all started with my proposed violin lesson in the morning. I left the house early, knowing at that time in the morning there would be crazy traffic. There was. It took me a whole hour to get there.

When I got there, my teacher was mysteriously not home. In fact, no one was home at all. Finding that I’d forgotten my phone, I decided just to wait for a while in case he showed up. He didn’t. After chanting some pathetic rounds, keeping tally on a piece of paper, I decided to leave. I should say that this is the point where had I any common sense, I would’ve just gone home and gotten on with the rest of the day. But no, since I have developed a borderline obsessive desire not to waste anything (including journeys) I made the foolish decision to try and find a violin shop I’d been meaning to visit. I had no map, no phone, I’d never driven in the area before, and I had only the scantiest of ideas where it was.

Undeterred, I pressed on, choosing roads on intuition and throwing caution to the wind. Roundabouts presented no problems – I chose whatever exit seemed most likely; and endless traffic lighted junctions? Pah! I lurched through them like a pro. Miraculously, I seemed to be managing to go in the right direction. My confidence grew. This wasn’t so hard! That was, until I got to Southall, where the shop was. I had now been driving for almost another hour (this place was supposed to be eighteen minutes from where my teacher lives).

I drove down Southall Broadway, scanning every passing street for the right turn off. Cars beeped from behind and I realised I was crawling along. I contemplated trying to stop and ask someone, but I was being swept along the street too fast. After driving down the same main street three times, I decided to venture into the further unknown – the maze of tiny one way residential roads.

Round and round I crept, every so often being brought back to the main road, then through into another one way system again. Then at last help came in the glorious form of a postman! He told me the road I was looking for was on the other side of town – of course – but explained how to get there.

Ok, to cut a long story (that probably no one is reading at this point anyway) short – one Ghanian traffic warden, and two more postmen (hurrah!) later, I reached my destination. When I got there, I realised that in my search, I had driven past it twice already. Never mind. The joy of actually getting somewhere made up for the mounting frustration.

I spent a pleasant twenty minutes in the peaceful, dusty enclave of the violin shop, discussing strings and prices and Chinese finishes – but I had come too early – there was nothing I could take away today. Disappointed, but armed with new directions for getting home in a more direct way, I left.

My journey home was nothing short of a nightmare. Somewhere along the way, one wrong turn left me helplessly hurtling along the motorway towards the airport, where I was digested through the endless strip-lit tunnels and unceremoniously spat out on another roundabout, leading to lists of places I’d never been. Like a true girl, I began to cry in sheer exhaustion. I felt like my brain would explode if I saw another red traffic light.

Fortunately, it didn’t, because I managed to get home, about thirty red lights and a total of four and a half leg numbing hours later. And that’s the end of the story. I don’t really know why I wrote it all down, but it feels a little better now.

The moral? Fools rush in, whereas angels would stop to consult a map first.

Photos courtesy of David F. Gallagher at


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6 responses to “Fool’s Progress: A Lesson in Getting Lost

  1. not angels…just boys. you are all girl! i hope you had a nice piece of chocolate when you got home. (and see…i did read to the end…great writing).

  2. Just think now you have learned a few new roads, next time you will be less lost. It is not all failure, and often taking the chance means you learn.

  3. Hello: It is always nice to credit the source of photos.

  4. I agree! I apologise for my oversight. I hope it’s still alright to use them?

  5. Pingback: Cold Town, Girl In The City « The Little Conch

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