Brian May was wrong   Leave a comment

More than Captain Birdseye could have handled.

On Saturday I went to Oxford.

It dawned on me: the car feeds the ‘phone. The ‘phone interprets the instructions from Google HQ and transmits Google Woman’s voice to the car, which broadcasts it over its speakers. I obey the instructions.

I am Google’s hardware interface to my hire-car.

Even with Skynet’s help I can’t navigate Northampton’s ring road. I’d not really got the hang of either the necessary blind obedience, or to its giving me instructions miles in advance and then repeating them at the last instant, by the time I got there. So when it said “Turn Left”, despite all the signs saying straight on, I didn’t have time to think about it and so missed the turning. I then – probably because 2 and 3 are so easily confused – took the wrong exit off the roundabout towards the M1. But Google Woman would not give up on me, and so found an entirely new route to the A43 (or is it 34?) without doubling-back to the M1. Impressive. And I wasn’t even killed in a cataclysmic fireball.

At the M40 I got my own back by (deliberately) driving down the B430 rather than fighting with every other car in the country to go one junction down the motorway between the A43 (or is it 34?) to the A34 (or is it 43?). Eventually Google Woman became resigned to her fate, saying “continue on B430 for six miles”. I have not been killed by a time-travelling robot. Yet.

The meetup was good. A lot of talking about computer games, of course, and a tasty meal of crab and chilli pasta in the pub. After that we went to the museum, where I noticed that a couple of the herbivorous dinosaurs (Iguanodon was one) had unusually-shaped fingertips; the bones were shaped a bit like a rounded arrow. I’d never spotted that before. None of Oxford Natural History Museum’s dinosaurs have feathers, which I know is wrong but I prefer scaly dinosaurs so didn’t mind so much. We then went next door to the anthropological museum, where one of the exhibits showed some of the ludicrous things people do to themselves in the name of attractiveness. Ear-lobe stretching weights were one thing, but both lip-plugs and scarification? *Shudder*
People are quite mad.
Still, upstairs were devices for doing far worse things to people for far sillier reasons, without even their consent.

After that was some coffee, cookies and more talking. I demonstrated that I’m not nearly as eloquent when I can’t think about every utterance for half an hour, but didn’t say anything terrible or embarassing, so that’s OK.

When the day was done I was dropped off at the bus-stop to return to the park and ride just as a bus got there, but thought that I’d nip to the loo in the cinema before coming home. Buses run every ten or fifteen minutes so that’s no problem.
Unfortunately, due to Google Woman’s insistance that I wanted Water Eaton instead of parking in a Pear Tree, that was only true up until the bus I didn’t get on. Which was the last one. About four hours earlier than expected.


Happily, my smart ‘phone came to the rescue once again, and I discovered that City2 buses went to the same place (and my ticket was still valid!). I’ve only had it a month but I don’t know what I’d do without it. Planning and research, probably.

So I made it back to the car safe and sound, humbugs were consumed, how to turn on the headlights was figured out, Google Woman’s instructions were followed to the letter, and I didn’t even die in a cataclysmic fireball on Northampton ring-road for the second time in ten hours – a record, I think.

All in all, a jolly good day.


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