Famous.... but no one knows who he is amid poetry confusion

An amusing poem called Sat Nav keeps doing the rounds online, cropping up on all sorts of websites.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 6:00 am
Bill Daniel

Google the first line, and scores of sites will tell you the poem is by Pam Ayres.

One website even reprints it alongside the words “Don’t you just love Pam Ayres...........”

And indeed millions of people do. The only problem is that the poem is by Chichester poet, 81-year-old Bill Daniel.

He admits he is chuffed but also baffled.

“I think Pam Ayres is brilliant, but I wrote the poem.”

Seven years ago, Pam Ayres herself Tweeted: “Just for info, there is currently a poem about a satnav doing the rounds. It is supposed to be by me, but I’ve never seen it in my life.” (March 25, 2014).

And yet, still the myth persists – much to Bill’s bemusement.

The poem’s opening lines are:

“I have a little Satnav, it sits there in my car.

A Satnav is a driver’s friend it tells you where you are.

I have a little Satnav, I’ve had it all my life.

It’s better than the normal ones, my Satnav is my wife.”

As Bill explains: “What happened was that in the very early 2000s or maybe even the late 1990s, my wife bought me a Garmin sat nav for the car. And I wrote the poem. There is absolutely no question about that whatsoever.”

Bill submitted the poem to the Chichester Observer and believes it was published in the paper. His suspicion is that someone copied it, left off his name and circulated it… and so the spread began. He believes the next piece in the mystery was a website which reprinted it “author unknown”, to which someone commented “It sounds like Pam Ayres.”

And maybe that’s how the myth began: “It seems that somewhere after that, between 2012 and 2014, it got attributed to Pam which is when Pam denied it.

“I am quite chuffed in a way,” Bill admits. But also mystified. He explained it all to his granddaughter who Googled the poem and was astonished just how many times it came up with Pam Ayres’ name next to it.

“She said ‘Grandad’s famous! But nobody knows grandad is famous because nobody knows he wrote the poem!’ You can see that lots of people like the poem. People say on the websites that they have enjoyed it. But I am baffled how it got into the public domain.

“Someone has even put it on YouTube, someone reading it with a very, very broad West Country accent, not unlike Pam’s. I come from Devon originally so I could have done a very similar accent myself.

“Pam Ayres’ husband Dudley has also emailed me, in response to my email to him, again saying that this poem was definitely not one of Pam’s. The poem seems to have come up on a lot of websites over the years, almost always incorrectly attributed to Pam. On the various websites there are sometimes slight variations to my original, like an additional verse added at the beginning, in one case, and a few altered words here and there, but basically it is nearly always verbatim to my original one.”