Dom Joly: I could have told myself where to go, but my kids did

Share
Related Topics

Satnavs – who needs them? When they first came out I totally fell in love. It was like being in the SAS, you had your own little gadget that would tell you where you were and how to get anywhere with the help of what felt like your own personal satellite revolving around the earth just waiting to guide you to Waitrose.

Nowadays, however, they are ubiquitous – every car that passes you has its little electric light box suctioned to the windscreen as the driver slavishly follows the yellow line to his or her destination

Consequently, everybody seems to have lost their natural sense of direction. No longer do they check maps and plot routes, gaining an overview of where they are going and how to do so in the time-honoured, manly way. Now we just tap in a postcode and head off, blindly following the idiot box to wherever it wishes to take us. This would be fine if the thing actually knew the way. The problem is that it doesn't.

I now firmly believe that satnavs are an elaborate practical joke inflicted on the population by irate, non-driving nerds. They are incapable of getting you in and out of any city without circumnavigating the place twice. Often they have their own views on where you should be going despite you having input precise directions.

My satnav hates Swindon, for instance. Any time I get near the town, the flat computerised voice tells me to "turn around where possible and drive away ... now". It also seems to dislike country roads, despite repeatedly turning off the option that selects "major roads only". The little bastard constantly tries to point me towards the M4, even if I'm only going from home to Cirencester.

Recently, I've kept him turned off, but he's got wise to that and has seemingly now acquired his own power-up system. I'll be driving along, perfectly happy, listening to Radio 4 when he'll suddenly turn himself on and start telling me to turn left in 100 yards and head for Brighton. I wondered whether it might just be the voice that I chose. Maybe he was a particularly unpleasant individual? I selected another one – a nasal female who took an instant dislike to me and demanded that I drive her to Cheltenham. I turned her off as well and hid the machine in the boot for the rest of the day.

I read the manual and discovered that I could record my own voice on to the machine. This would have been a bit too weird, so I got my kids to record the 50 or so options that the machine needs. About a week later, I had to go to the United States for a road trip and took it with me. I was travelling with a friend who was at first surprised to hear my kids' angelic voices telling me things like "Daddy, in 486 miles ... turn left".

By the time we'd reached Memphis, the novelty had worn off and I could sense that he was having thoughts of infanticide. The satnav must have also sensed his hostility, as it suddenly made us turn off the interstate and drive through an area that looked not unlike downtown Kigali. Gangs of sullen youths stood on little corners of wasteland, waiting for us to stop. I put my foot down and tried to turn the machine off while trying to use some of my lost orienteering skills to get us back to safety.

I've now decided what I want: a stoned Rastafarian voice who doesn't really care where I'm going. Occasionally he'd say things like, "Man ... if you feel like it, maybe consider a turn soon." Or "I'll be perfectly honest wit' you – I'm totally lost man ... but relax ... and whatever you do ... don't go to Swindon."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices