I travel through time and space, flitting effortlessly from street to street, town to town, country to country.
Oh, Google Maps, how I love thee! To the man who will not physically travel, even when the world is Covid-free, virtual travel is a boon, allowing me to see other places and be glad that I’m not in them.
Only joking. If I were physically abroad, right enough, I’d be wanting to come home. I find it all too unsettling, particularly if there isn’t a chippie for miles.
On the other hand, I do like to check out the few places that I have been to but, even better, to visit random towns in beautiful countries like Norway and Sweden. They’re always lovely, with the coloured houses and neat, clean streets.
On Google Maps, you can even visit Iceland and Canada. I think I must be a really Northern person. I’ve never really thought about it before. It just seems to be where my instincts lie.
Indeed, come to think of it, I’m amazed at how much I haven’t investigated on Google Maps: the Far East, the Near East, India, Australia, Africa, Latin America.
It’s all there waiting for me. I just have to pluck up the courage to press the buttons. I suppose, in a way, it’s because I’m not really interested in such places. Is that a terrible thing to say? I don’t mean it to be. I just mean that it has to be places where I could see myself, where I’d feel comfortable, not hot or crowded or frightening.
Friends of mine go to exotic places and always seem to get ill or attacked by large insects or small animals with no respect for personal space. That said, I was impressed when two gastronomically inclined pals said they’d eaten the best fish and chips they’d ever had in Hong Kong. Wonder if they deliver?
Back in Britain, I like to revisit places and towns where I used to live, or even hotels, not to mention retracing the loci of stories I covered when a roving reporter.
Another technological benefit of the internet age has been folk visiting places and just running the cameras on their phones as they go round. The results on YouTube are much better than TV documentaries with their arty shots that always cut away too soon.
You just follow the person round naturally, seeing everything, even the duller bits. I’ve found this particularly enjoyable with historic parts of Rome such as the Forum and the Colosseum. For the first time, despite reading books about these, complete with diagrams, I can see how they all fit together and get a real impression of their size and place in the townscape. Marvellous.
Though they often looks hot and crowded, I’m interested enough in the architecture to risk watching it all from my sofa. Here, nothing can fall on my head. No one can try to sell me anything. I don’t get funny looks from anyone but can stick my tongue out at them with impunity.
Sticking your tongue out at people in reality-life often leads to problems. That’s one of many reasons why I find the real world over-rated. Give me the virtual world, far from the madding crowds, any day.