Saturday 18 July 2009

Maps and Legends

When I was 12, my mum and dad went to a parent’s evening at school. In between being told how amazing I was, they discussed my home life with my teacher, and especially my habit of sitting and reading maps like they were books. This caused them a great deal of bemusement and laughter.

The next day, Mrs Gan, my form tutor, asked me to stay behind in the break. She sat me down and told me never, ever to lose that love of maps; that I should basically ignore my parents and continue to pore over atlases and Ordnance Survey as much as I like, because it gives you a love for travel, and adventure, and exploration. Thank you, Mrs Gan.

mapaddictI was reminded of all this by a fantastic book I discovered in Waterstones – Map Addict, by Mike Parker. In it, Parker recounts his own lifetime of map love, and how it’s shaped him as a person. He also goes into the history of maps themselves, in a brilliant, thoroughly readable way. I bought the book to read on holiday, and put it this way: I’d finished it before the plane landed in Preveza. It was funny, interesting and just really rather wonderful. The chapter on the shenanigans around the Greenwich Meridian are worth the price of admission alone.

I’m still being guided by maps; this whole blog’s about adding flesh to the Merseyrail map – filling in the gaps between the ticks. No tart is complete without me first planning my route through A-Z and Ordnance Survey. It was great to read a book by someone who shared that love of mile posts, lines of gradient, and coppices. Go get it.

While we're in the mood to talk about maps, here’s the latest state of the map update – to whit:

Merseytart Map

The majority of the untarted stations are now lying outside Merseyside itself, so they’ll need a bit of work to get at – no Saveaways for me. I’m also still ill, unfortunately, and part of the symptoms is that I nod off if I have to walk more than, ooh, about three yards. So I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get out there again – this is an extremely annoying state of affairs, trust me. I am determined to do some more tarting soon though, so watch this space…

1 comment:

North West Media Man said...

You'd get on well with my good lady. Wherever we go she knows all the road numbers whereas I simply go on road signs and a vague notion of which town follows which.

Sorry you are not feeling so good. Hope you make it for the Ormskirk bash on 31st - but you may want to give it a miss as Lord Adonis has pulled out 'for personal reasons' whatever that means. His place is now being taken by Sir William McAlpine, Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust.