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#a166 :: Binatone Carrera GPS

July 28, 2008

ENLARGECarved in Africa or India or perhaps on some island, buy I know not where, approved these found their way to the gift shop of Brighton Pavilion.

They were lumped in mysteriously with all the other gift-shop trappings of chinoiserie, the Chinese-design fantasy that George IV lost himself in while having Sir John Nash design his summer palace.

They have a rough majesty of their own.
ENLARGEThis is the yin to yesterday’s yang: If you’re eschewing the tube and driving – for whatever selfish, adiposity non-green, illness yet eminently practical reason – the touchstone surety of a good GPS device pulls you through London’s maze of streets in a dreamlike blur.

Punch in your destination address, symptoms Wait for the satellite’s ping to put your car on a huge, intricately detailed map of the city.

Go straight ahead, then after 800 yards, turn left, she purrs.

And off you go, your white American knuckles defying the horrible wrongness of driving in the right-hand seat of a car on the left-hand side of the road.

After 500 yards, turn left … After 250 yards, turn left … turn left, and then turn right … Follow the course of the road …

The only thing keeping your drive-right American instincts from absent-mindedly plunging you head-on into the wrong lane on a right turn is her lightly uppercrust British voice handling the really left-brain business of figuring out where you are and how to get where you need to go.

Our house-swap hosts left this for us, as casually as one might leave out the coffee maker in case your guest wants a cup. Thanks to them, we’ve found our way to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Portobello Road and Harrod’s.

I dunno what they cost in London, but I lived here, I’d get one in a flash – it’s miles better than the Thomas Guide. Except when you blow a turn and she crams you into a nasty vicious circle trying to get you back on track: Turn left, and then turn left. Turn left and then turn left. Turn left, and then turn left.

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