Since I learnt to drive, I’ve always carried a road atlas in the car, even though I rarely use one these days. Certain pages would with use get more dogeared, marked and worn than others – unless you’re a truck driver you probably don’t use all the pages equally.
But this is a new atlas, with no marked wear and tear just yet, so everywhere is ‘equal’. I picked a page on Devon, where I lived for several years during my 20s and when I used to travel frequently from Exeter back to Dorset through Honiton, Axminster and Lyme Regis. My atlas from the time would have been creased and well-used – and faded too as the page would have been lying open in the sunlight on the back shelf of the car. This map isn’t though – instead it’s pristine and full colour and untarnished.
So, I took it apart – disassembled it to see what it’s really made of, then stitched it back together again – to see what new landscapes would emerge. Do I recognise any of this journey anymore? Are the ghosts of memories inherent in those familiar place names? Or is it fresh, shiny and new like the paper itself?