It was never really true that life was all about the journey, not the destination – because the destination had sun (maybe), sand, sea and ice-cream – but Ordnance Survey maps certainly put some fun, and some heated discussions, into working out where one was going. Those were the days.
And what, you might wonder, does any of this have to do with literature? The answer is that in these fraught years of what I’m calling Digidom, the OS map, possibly the most cumbersome, old-fashioned bit of kit imaginable, has become not just a pointer to Prestatyn or Polperro, Canterbury or Carlisle, but a wider health indicator helping to signify the condition of the two basic types of travel book: the “literary” volume artfully mastered by the likes of Alexander Frater and Jonathan Raban; and the travel guide, made wildly popular not too many years ago in, for example, its Lonely Planet and Rough Guides guises.
I was interviewed for this Prestige story about guidebooks and hiking maps. Read the full article here.