Snoozing in my bed this morning with the dulcet tones of the BBC’s Today programme washing over me, I contemplated the notion of rising and shining to greet the new day. And then, blow me down with a wet didgeridoo if you will, didn’t somebody say it has been scientifically proven that men have an inbuilt sense of direction and women don’t. At least, in my semi-wakened state that I think is what the nub of the item was about.
Now I can feel women everywhere bristling at this idea and I’m sure you good ladies all have a most excellent sense of direction and could find your way from Rotterdam to Riga just by consulting your inner satnav.
This piece of biological or neurological equipment, sadly, I seem bereft of. As do all the female line of my family. Whatever bit of familial chromosomal material on whichever gene assists with finding one's way, this never attached itself to our brainboxes.
I know this and so do my female rellies, as we have all tried over the years to educate ourselves in the minutiae of the geography of our country in an endeavour to independently find our way to unfamiliar destinations, mostly to no avail. How does one know to go down this street or that in a strange town, or an instinct that says ‘we want to be over there?’ Yet my spouse can do this in any place, in any country.
Technically speaking, we have all learned to map read, but it does not translate to anything meaningful in our heads. For me it’s something akin to reversing the car using the mirrors. Which way to turn the wheel? I have to think about it. I don’t think I’m unusually dense, it just doesn’t come naturally.
My spouse always maintained I could get lost in a paper bag. As ever, he exaggerates, thought I. Until one day I almost got lost on Darlington Station. Early morning, waiting with a friend for a train to Inverness and nature called. I duly trotted off and found the Ladies, used the facilities and came out again, only without realising it, out of a different door. I stood on an unfamiliar platform wondering what on earth was going on. Had I gone through Platform Nine and Three Quarters like Harry Potter and come out in a strange land? I went back indoors again and discovered there were, after all, two doors to this facility. With huge relief I stepped out again, onto the platform I had so recently left. So yes, maybe spouse has a point. I had got lost almost in the space of a paper bag.
Returning to the item on the Today programme. It seems this inbuilt sense of direction was a requirement of our male hunter-gatherer ancestors. Presumably they roamed hither and yon in search of food and it was helpful to find their way back to the little woman at the homestead.
Lucky for me I don’t live in a mansion or palace. I might have had to find my way with the unwinding a piece of string technique. And please, never, ever put me in a maze or I might end my days still trying to find my way out. (Note to self - do not let spouse read this - it may prove too tempting.)