On The Road Again (Again)


More books for you.

The first is ‘Mapping The Roads’, a handsome book from Mike Parker on, perhaps unsurprisingly, the history of the mapping of Britain’s roads – which as a man moderately obsessed with the world of cartography was always going to be of interest to me. It’s a hugely thorough and beautifully illustrated affair starting at the very beginning with Matthew Paris’ 13th-century map of Britain and somewhat inevitably ending with the work of everyone’s favourite financially evasive multinational corporation specialising in internet related services and products.

Coincidentally on the day the book arrived the episode below, from Mike’s Radio 4 On The Map series (originally broadcast in 2010), was being repeated – I’m sure if you all go out and buy a copy of his book he won’t mind me borrowing (and you listening) to this. (The programme also features Joe Moran whose book On Roads is well worth investigating further too.)

And the other is ‘Watford Gap – The First Motorway Service Station’, the latest book from Sam Mellish, whose previous publication ‘Roadside Britain’ was very well received at Weir HQ.

Watford Gap is an “intimate study of the myriad different people who pass through the doors” of the service station that opened on 2 November 1959. From Jonathan Germaney “on leave to see the girlfriend for a few days”, to Lillian Montague who’d “broken down with her son awaiting the AA to come to the rescue”, to Pat Doherty who when photographed by Sam was “celebrating a silver medal at the British barbershop singing competition”. As well as the portraits of Jonathan, Lillian, Pat and others the book also begins with a prologue (naturally) from poet David Harsent and finishes with some ‘archival works’ from Martin Parr when he photographed a very different looking set of people and surroundings at the Blue Boar, Watford Gap’s name back in 1982.

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