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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine