Magazine article The Spectator

Keep Right on . .

Magazine article The Spectator

Keep Right on . .

Article excerpt

I wanted to get from the youth hostel in the centre of Dartmoor, where I was staying, to a town on the outskirts where my brother lives. My brother has a subscription to the Sky Sports channel. I planned to pop over and watch the second half of the midweek match and be back in time for evening prayers and the ceremony of the shutting of the gates, or whatever the form was at youth hostels. Unfolding my Ordnance Survey map on the diningroom table, the warden and I leaned across and studied it. 'Now, we're here, ' said the warden, pressing his forefinger against the youth hostel symbol. And, doing my best impression of a second world war English army officer, I added, 'And Jerry. . . is here, here, here, here and here.' Ignoring my levity, the warden suggested two possible routes. I could go the long way round via the main roads (or what passes for the main roads on Dartmoor), or maybe I should consider a short cut, which he traced out with his forefinger.

This route was marked on the map by a microscopically thin line, straight at first, then wandering this way and that, then, losing confidence in itself altogether, becoming a dotted line among a diffuse matrix of other dotted lines that mostly went nowhere or perhaps passed into another dimension. If this was a viable short cut, I surmised, it was probably known only to the warden and itinerant pedlars. Which route did he recommend?

Whichever route I chose was entirely up to me, emphasised the warden, clearly anxious about what he was going to say at the inquest.

Time and bravado were of the essence, so I plumped for the short cut. 'Turn right instead of left at the gate and go straight on, ' said the warden, karate-chopping the map. 'Whatever happens, follow the road and keep going. If you are presented with alternatives, keep straight on. Don't give up. After about 20 minutes you should come to a T-junction with a signpost.' As instructed, I turned right instead of left at the gate. A fog was descending.

Smooth and broad at first, the tarmac narrowed and snaked over a humpback bridge. I've played crazy golf over bigger humpback bridges than that one. Then there was another tiny bridge, then a cattle grid. After that was a continuous stretch of tarmac where the fog was so thick that driving became a video game. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.