After four hours of driving, we should have been in the middle of Dartmoor. And yet we were not. We were pulled over in a lay-by and the infernal devil that is the iPhone satnav was wiping the floor with us.
The iPhone has been stuck in groundhog day since we took it to Cornwall in the summer. Specifically, it is obsessed with Liskeard. Ever since we drove through there on the way to a holiday cottage it has been gripped by a strange determination to get itself back there that can only be described as psychotic.
So strong is its neurosis that whenever I program it to take me somewhere in London, I set off from my house in Balham with the iPhone announcing: ‘Four hours and 46 minutes to arrival at… Liskeard!’
‘But I don’t want to go to Liskeard,’ I scream, screeching to a halt. ‘I want to go to Putney!’ And as I bash the commands, I find that while I correctly instructed it to take me from SW12 to SW15, it has re-set itself to take me from SW12 to PL14.
I asked it to take me to Worplesdon the other day, and it accepted the job happily enough until we got off the A3 at Burpham. Then it started sending me round the houses until I realised it was trying to get me to the M3. When I pulled over, it was flashing the cheery news that it was ‘four hours and 23 minutes from Jacobs Well, Surrey to… Liskeard!’
I suppose I’m lucky the darn thing didn’t try to take me to Jacob’s Well, Texas. But I don’t think it wants me to go anywhere as exciting as Texas. It wants me to go to Liskeard.
Possibly the iPhone fell in love with Liskeard. Or maybe it is possessed by the devil. Whatever the reason, it invariably re-programs itself at some point in every journey to take me to an ancient stannary town in southeast Cornwall.
I wouldn’t mind, but I didn’t exactly fall in love with Liskeard when I did go there on purpose. Sincere apologies to any Liskeard-eans reading this, but the day I went to Liskeard I was in a right hump.
I didn’t realise, as Wikipedia now informs me, that ‘Liskeard is one of the few towns in Cornwall still to have a weekly livestock market, every Tuesday. There is a range of restaurants, cafés and pubs in the town, and some shops retain their Victorian shop fronts and interiors.’
Or that ‘Liskeard puts on a pantomime in the last week of January and holds a carnival every June arranged by the Liskeard Lions. Every July, Liskeard holds a large agricultural show, the Liskeard Show.’
Really, it’s just a personal thing, me not liking Liskeard. It’s just that when I drove through, I had my parents in the back, the spaniel in the boot, and the builder boyfriend in the passenger seat, and it was raining. Every possible combination of interpersonal relationship difficulty was kicking off.
If we didn’t take in the delights of Liskeard properly, it was because we were too busy arguing about whether or not we should have a lunch stop, or go to the supermarket to buy provisions for that evening, or get out and give the dog a pee, or give up on the holiday altogether and go home on account of the hideous weather.
Maybe the iPhone believes that by going back to Liskeard now I will face some demons and undergo important spiritual growth.
But I don’t want to. I want to go to Dartmoor, to ride ponies. And it was to there that we were heading, with the iPhone behaving fine to Exeter and beyond it down the A38, and with us feeling like we must be nearly there when suddenly we were crossing the Tamar Bridge.
‘This feels like we’ve gone too far,’ I told the builder, as we pulled over. And that is when I noticed that the iPhone was getting very excited. It thought it had almost pulled it off. It was flashing: ‘Twenty-three minutes to… Liskeard!’
‘NOOOO!’ I screamed. The builder said: ‘Stay calm. We can put this right.’
‘NOOOOOO!!’ I screamed. The builder turned the car around. ‘We’re not a million miles off. Don’t panic.’
‘It will never give up,’ I wept. ‘Not until it wins. We are going to have to go to Liskeard. It’s too strong for us. Forget Dartmoor. Let’s just do what it wants. Please. I can’t fight it any more.’
The builder raced back down the A38. ‘We’re not going to Liskeard,’ he said, as the satnav barked at him to make a U-turn. ‘We are NOT going to Liskeard, goddam you!’ he yelled.
‘We’re going to Liskeard,’ I said, rocking backwards and forwards in the passenger seat.