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Map Nature Or Map Nurture; Are Map Addicts Born Or Made?

I've said it before, many times, but I'm a 100% un-reconstructed map addict and make no apology for it. I've said this in posts I've written on this blog as well as using it as part of my introduction for talks at conferences. This post is a slightly more long winded version of why I am the map addict that I am.

I grew up in the suburbs of London. For as long as I can remember, every week day morning my father picked up his briefcase and walked to the local British Rail station (for this was way before the privatisation of the British rail network) and went to the fantastical place, to a child's mind at least, called Central London where he worked. He went there on a train. Which was amazing and wonderful to me at the time. I knew he worked in Central London because he had a book of maps of all the streets in Central London. It was old, dog-eared and probably out of date but it made the journey to and from work with him every day and I used to look at it in the evenings, after he'd come home for the day. This mystical and wondrous book was called the London A-Z. It looked something like this.

But what was even more wondrous was that this book of street maps had another map on it. The back cover showed a map of railways which ran under the ground, in tunnels. If trains were amazing and wonderful to me then, trains which ran under the ground in tunnels were a complete revelation to me. This other map, of the trains in tunnels, looked something like this.

I didn't know about Harry Beck or the history of the London Underground Tube map. All I knew was that this was something almost other-wordly. I fell in love with that map when I was around 7 years of age and I've not fallen out of love with it yet (as posts on this blog probably show).

So my father inadvertently introduced me to maps. So obviously a map addict is down to personal experience. It was my father's London A-Z that made me a map addict. It's nurture not nature.

Maybe not ...

Last weekend I was sorting through a load of boxes that has been in storage since my father passed away. As I'd expected it was a massive lump in the throat affair as I came across things I remember from childhood. Also as expected, I found a whole lot of stuff which I'd never seen before and which, to a small degree, made the knowledge that I had of my father just that little bit more complete. But also, totally unexpected, I found this, from 1939.

Then I found this from 1943.

Now I'm not suggesting for one moment that my father was also a fellow map addict but he'd kept these for over 70 years in his possession so maybe, just maybe, maps meant something to him too.

Maybe, just maybe, there's some nature at work in the creation of a map addict as was as some nurture. Just maybe.

Gary Gale

I'm Gary ... a Husband, Father, CTO at Kamma, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user