Monday, November 30, 2009

Brought to You by the Letters A and Z

I came across this photo today on London Daily Photo and it looked so much like my own collection that I had to laugh.

I'm going to float the theory that the number of copies you have of this handy book is directly related to the number of years spent in London -- I've been here for five years, and I own five! The book's called the A - Z, and it's kind of like having GoogleMaps in your pocket. Each page shows a different cross-section of London streets, (almost) down to the smallest passageways. Simply put, if you live in London you need to have one of these.

I first realised the importance of having one when I was called out to supply teach in a neighbourhood off Edgware Road, central London. Just off the plane from Canada, I'd taken down the fastidious directions from the recruitment consultant, naively thinking: how hard can it be?

Well. After getting lost in the maze of streets and finally getting to the job -- horror upon horrors -- late, the consultant (fielding my increasingly frantic phone calls) suggested I get an A - Z. When I wasn't chasing after errant children, I wondered what on earth this A - Z was. Vowing never to get lost again (OK, I didn't really know how to get home), I popped into a corner store and asked if they had one. The man handed me a coil-bound Inner London edition, and my A - Z collection was born.

I'd like to say I never got lost again. But little did I realise that my super-sized Inner City London edition didn't cover far-flung environs like Harolds Wood and Ponders End, where I was shunted off to supply teach. My wanderings prompted another A - Z purchase, this time covering the whole of London.

A - Z number three was purchased in a fit of panic when I mistakenly thought I'd lost one. I just couldn't bear to hit the London streets without my faithful companion in hand. Number four was a mini-version bequeathed to me by a friend returned to Canada -- great to store in your hand-bag but not so great when half the streets seem to fall in the centre crack and you need microscopic vision to see anything. And the fifth? Well, you wouldn't want your car journeys to be neglected, would you? It's nesting comfortably in the glove compartment.

This posting (not paid, honestly!) has been lovingly brought to you by the letters A and Z. I'm telling you, never leave home without it!


Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks for the smile!

Rob said...

I went to the British Library yesterday and in the bookshop they sold facsimiles of the first ever A to Z. It looks brilliant.