Mystery of road that seems to disappear between publication of two maps
- Credit: Google Maps
My husband suddenly expressed an interest in our locality the other day - that is to say, in its history.
I am fairly sure he has always been invested in his present locale although, it must be said, our lengthy walks during the first lockdown thoroughly unmasked our ignorance of even the immediate area in which we live.
Road names I vaguely remembered overhearing in the past loomed solidly out of the dusk, startling me with their proximity to our address - was I really so unenlightened?
Appropriately ashamed of my obtuseness, I vowed henceforth to fix the names in my memory.
Regretfully - as I have needed to explain defensively to the children on more than one occasion - things are apt to fall out of my head with greater frequency in my advancing years - not because my brain is shrinking, I reassure myself, but because there is so much more to remember in adulthood - an entire lifetime of learning.
The children's enviably youthful minds are capacious fecund fields into which the seeds of ideas are unsparingly sown and in which rich swathes of ground they grow and flourish.
My aging cranium is brimful with deplorably pointless knowledge already; any incoming information is forced to jostle for implantation space alongside deep-seated data - my childhood best friend's phone number, for example - that's never coming out, despite there being absolutely no benefit in my retaining it.
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Occasionally, some exotic new seed will tunnel triumphantly and germinate unseen, perhaps producing latent fruit; most, however, will lay passively on the surface, occasionally flaring into a brief blaze of glory before quietly subsiding.
Basically, by this overextended metaphor I am admitting I have forgotten the neighbourhood road names.
Only one - Starpitten - stayed with me, its astral splendour evoking images of wide open skies and long lonely twilit horseback journeys with only the haunting melodies of a harmonica for comfort...
Anyway, during an evening wander, my husband remarked upon the closeness of two Fore Streets we frequently traipse, separated by a mere couple of roads, pondering whether they had once been one continuous street.
I argued it was unlikely, since they were situated in villages that would have been independent of one another historically; to settle the matter, he decided he would research old maps of the area upon our return.
Meanwhile, my attention had been ensnared by a newsagent's poster announcing that night's record lottery jackpot, and, busily manipulating millions in my head, I interrupted my husband's musings to elicit a promise from him to purchase an online ticket.
Our walk continued peaceably enough, and we eventually returned home, my husband disappearing immediately upstairs.
I was fully immersed in a barrage of fantasies about our benevolence as multi-millionaires when he requested my presence.
He was sat at the computer, whose screen was filled with sepia-toned images of our local area.
With squinting scrutiny - the maps were unforgivingly small - we succeeded in pinpointing the origins of what we believed to be each individual Fore Street.
My husband was more focused than I, I confess; having realised both the lateness of the hour and that he had not visited the lottery website, I was hastily procuring an online ticket myself, my head filled with the acres of time that would be at our happy disposal should we benefit enough to give up work.
It was fairly apparent that the two Fore Streets had never been connected, but we found the changing topography of the area fascinating nonetheless.
It has inspired a desire to explore the mystery of a road that seems to disappear between the publication timings of two maps - an intriguing quest.
Sadly, our fortune was not realised that evening and it was back to the day job on Monday.
We shall undauntedly persist in the investigation in our spare time; after all, in my habit of forgetting road names, I may as well kill two birds with one stone and add to the list one that has ceased to exist.
Although, no doubt, that will be the one I pointlessly remember.