When I was twelve and a half we moved house. My father was a minister and our family, like all manse families, moved as God’s call took my dad to new places – though it always seemed to me that God’s call came at the most inconvenient of times. At the point of that particular move I was just six months in to secondary school and I really didn’t want to change schools again. I had just done it – but, needless to say, I didn’t have a choice. We had been living in Greenock and we moved to Paisley. It was only twenty miles, but it could have been five hundred so far as I was concerned – and I was to go to Paisley Grammar School. We lived about a mile and a half from the school, so within what was deemed to be walking distance.
I don’t remember clearly, but I think I was taken and collected the first few days. But early on I was walking home for the first time. I walked up from the school along Glasgow Road and got to the big junction that is Paisley Cross. All the instructions I had been given disappeared from my mind. I have never been good at finding my way. I am so grateful for SatNav technology. I am not sure that I could have done my present job before we had SatNavs.
Anyhow, there I was at Paisley Cross, with three choices. I knew I didn’t want to go back the way I had come – but should I go straight on, turn right or turn left. I can’t remember whether I went straight on or turned right – but I didn’t turn left, which was what I should have done. And so, eventually, I retraced my footsteps, found a phone box, and had to be rescued by my dad. It is a long way from being the last time that I have been lost, but possibly one of the most scary for me at the time.
But why tell that story? Well, I am telling it because I want you to come with me to Paisley Cross – and stand there, as I did, thinking which way should I go? What is the right direction? And actually it is a bit more complicated than I have made it be so far. The way I had learned was to turn left and that is what I should have done. But actually I later discovered that probably the slightly shorter – and quicker – way was to go straight. It was a different route, and I didn’t know it at that point, but it was certainly an equally good, if not better, way to get me to my destination of home.
Would that it were always easy to know which way to go!