On The Map

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The cover of New Escapologist Issue 12 depicts an antique map of Glasgow in Scotland.

We used a map of all things to illustrate the theme of walking, though the decision to use specifically a Glasgow map was more solipsistic, for Samara and I–the ones who make these decisions–had recently moved there.

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Now that the magazine is published I realise how much I enjoyed looking at all those images of maps, so I watched this BBC documentary about Ordnance Survey, the organisation responsible for developing the finest maps in the world.

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I’m happy with how the Glasgow map looks on the magazine cover. It’s gorgeous. But in the documentary, the President of the Royal Geographic Society mentions a map that would have been even more apt to use.

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Of the Ordnance Survey popular edition (1919-1926), he says:

“That era spans a part of history in Britain where the number of motor cars on the road went up from 77,000 to around a million. And so that map is the last picture we have of Britain before it was overrun by motor transport.”

Isn’t that something? Beautiful evidence of a time before the ubiquity of the infernal combustion engine.

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The documentary also mentions that cartographers, otherwise uncredited for their individual work on the maps, would sometimes sneak their names into the maps like a signature. They had to be very sneaky about it too, lest their supervisors find out. That’s some fairly wonderful workplace mischief.

Pleasingly, one of these cheeky map-makers had the same name as me:

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★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

About

Robert Wringham is a humorist and the editor-in-chief of New Escapologist.

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