Lunchtime today found me frantically rushing around the kitchen knocking up a Shepherd's Pie for Supper. The reasons for the frantic rushing was that I had a conference call in the diary at one o'clock and the reason for supper being prepared in advance was that we are out this evening to see Barry Cryer at The Palace Theatre in Redditch.
Five minutes before the conference call I answered a knock at the door and was engaged in conversation by a Gentleman in his late 60's...
"Hello" says I. "Hello" he replied, rapidly followed by "I'm lost". At this point I expected him to ask for a particular road in the Village or perhaps a local Hamlet that is a little off the beaten track. I certainly wasn't expecting the next couplet in this conversation...
... "Where are you trying to get to?" says I. "Birmingham" says he.
At this point my brain took time out to consider the situation. I was stood talking to a man who was having problems trying to find Britain's second largest city. If he couldn't manage to locate Birmingham I could see him having some serious challenges locating a particular suburb, street or building in the aforementioned city. How many of us actually head out to an unknown location apparently without either map or satellite navigation unit these days? I know that I can be a little flippant about my preparations for a journey but even my minimalist approach includes noting down the destination address and taking either an Atlas or a Sat Nav. Sometimes, if I am really keen, I will plan out the route before I leave AND take a mobile 'phone and contact numbers in case I get lost.
This chap appeared to have taken none of these preparatory activities and seems to be relying on luck to get there. He was at least twenty five miles from his destination city and had got lost already. It is not as though he was just having problems with the final mile. This chap was obviously seriously out of his depth.
I suggested that he follow the main road and then take a turn and follow the signs for Redditch. Once in Redditch he would then pick up signs for Birmingham. He didn't look convinced so I advised that he could follow the same road towards Alcester and then pick up the A453 that would take him to the Motorway. "Which Motorway?" he asked. I nodded in jaded confirmation when posited the M42.
"Ah. OK. How will I know that I am going in the right direction as I have a habit of going the wrong way". At this point my incredulity level is off the scale. He added that he was heading for the airport so I suggested that he look for signs towards Solihull to keep him on the right track. He seemed reasonably satisfied with this and pottered back towards his car.
As he wandered off I pondered his obvious lack of planning, lack of resources and blind faith in support from chance encounters along the way.
A few months ago a Chap went missing on a journey along the M25 and was eventually found 30 hours later, safe and sound, but a little confused, parked in a London suburb. I remembered reading this and wondered who would let their elderly relatives drive journeys that are beyond their abilities? Apparently it is far more common than I thought and is definite evidence that there really are some bloody stupid people around.