Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Women can't read maps

Plenty of men can't read maps either and for a man to ask directions from someone else is self emasculation for some.

However, woman can draw maps and rather well it seems.

While we in Melbourne are very attached to our Melways Street Directory, in London they use the A to Z. For other Australian capital cities, could you please leave in comments the name of your popular street directory?

The original London A to Z was the work of a woman by the name of Phyllis Pearsall.

Phyllis was a portrait painter and with a map in hand in 1935, she set off to a party and promptly became lost. She was not at fault as the map was poor and very old, but the best that was available.

Right, thought Phyllis, I 'll make my own. And so she did. She walked 3.000 miles of 23,000 London streets.

She designed and proofread and with the help of a draughtsman, in 1936 the first London A to Z was published and it quickly became a great success.

When we were in London a few years ago, we took with us an A to Z that a friend gave to us. It was from the mid sixties and we barely used it as it was so out of date. Free maps were readily available. Then when we returned home, he wanted his A to Z back. Cheek. He gave it to us. I gave it back of course.


  1. Of course women can read maps.

    Which is exactly why men invented sat nav for their cars - to not have the humiliating experience of relying on their wives for directions.

    Go Phyllis!

  2. Hey! I can read a map just fine thank you. I get lost because I can't apply the map to where I am.

  3. Have to put my hand up as a hopeless direction giver.

    The destination was Frankston (OK that was the first mistake)and I was given the Melways which I proceeded to read upside down (I hasten to add that I failed Matric geography).

    The result? We ended up at Whittlesea.

    Given the event at Frankston, I think people should have thanked me.

  4. I can read maps. I seem to have a problem, a transgenerational one at that, working out upon which side left and right are located.

  5. You can't beat the Melways Street Directory its the best i've been using them for years :-).

  6. Perth is simply 'StreetSmart'..I'm soooo not!!

  7. Love the London A to Z - if you're there for longer than a week and have a busy itinerary, it's worth every single penny....

    ...even though I can't read maps without turning them in the direction we're actually traveling in!

  8. Maps? Surely everyone uses a GPS now.

    In Sydney we used to have Gregory's. Then the UBD came along and we had choice. Gregories I think was usually had cover and UBD soft cover.

  9. LOL Rubye :)

    We have a GPS which, when one is heading North along the Hume to Albury, keeps telling us to go left. It also repeated the same mantra when we were heading south from Brisbane to Tweed Heads.
    A Brisway's would have been a fine thing.

  10. Touché Hels.

    Rubye, you just have to know where north is and relate the map to that. Face north and hold the map in that direction. Ok, a bit hard if you are in a car.

    LS, Whittlesea? That is a mega map misread.

    Christine, R and I were sitting outside the hotel near us having a drink just a few hours ago. I was mentioning that a shop in Chapel Street where I had bought easter eggs in the past had gone. R said, yes, I remember it. It was on the left as you go towards Windsor. I said the same side as Coles. Yes, he said. He meant right.

    Agree Windsmoke. While online Google Maps is fast, online Melways is better.

    Thanks Grace. Now don't be cutesy. I am sure you are quite street smart.

    Kath, I am thinking I should have a new A to Z bought over the net, just in case I need to go to London. Holding the map in the direction you are travelling is not a bad start.

    Panther, I don't yet. I'll probably ask for one for my birthday, but it would be a toy really. I like maps on paper. And I have maps on my phone.

    That is amazing FC. A sat nav can't even cope with the Hume?

  11. I have the UBD, Adelaide also has Gregory's, but that's a smaller book and I prefer something larger now that I'm older. I usually only upgrade every 5 years or so. I can read maps as long as they're turned so the road is in the same direction I'm travelling.

  12. River, both have a proud history, but neither ever did well here. Small is good for carrying but like you, I prefer a larger one.

  13. Anonymous3:20 pm

    I have a UBD in my car but I never use it. If I get lost I use my phone. Mostly I google map things before I leave.

    I re-discovered my A-Z the other day and got all misty eyed!!


  14. Fen, I do much the same, that is look it up on the electric map and make as meaningful sketch if needed.

  15. My most lingering memory using Sydney's Gregory's road maps was that it provided the actual moment when I realised my eyesight had faded and I needed reading glasses. I was checking the map at dusk one day and suddenly could no longer decipher the street names.

  16. Victor, I thought Sydney's fave was Gregorys although I think there is a Sydways. I realised I needed glasses when I reached the end of arm extension with reading material in hand. Any further away, then the print became too small to read, as opposed to too blurry to read close up.