12 Travel

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Decision-making is a bore, so find your destiny by following lucky number 12…


What you’ll need
Minimal numerical aptitude


Researching when and where to travel is too taxing. Instead, let lucky number 12 be the theme of an excursion, including it as many times (and in as many different ways) as you can.

Take a train that leaves at 1 2.1 2, disembarking at the twelfth stop; or drive only along highway number 1 2. Once you arrive, walk 12 blocks, find a lunch costing £1.20 or £ 12, and visit the twelfth most popular attraction in town (hey, someone’s got to).

Find a hotel and request to stay in room number 12, and order the twelfth item on the room service menu.

Complexity ****


Case study: Michael Clerizo, Dodecaphonous Discoverer

‘Twelve Travel’ is inspired by ‘dodecaphony’, the 12-tone method of musical composition developed by composer Arnold Schönberg. And 12 can be a difficult number – I know, because I phoned National Rail enquiries and asked them to find me ‘a train that leaves a station at 12 minutes after any hour’.

Walking through my local station, a poster declares, ‘Trains depart every 12 minutes’ from Mill Hill East on the Northern Line. Twelve stops after Mill Hill East is Moorgate, and disappointment. Stockbrokers and money managers are fine but the streetscape is boring. Every façade has been designed by consultancies that follow orthodoxy masquerading as creativity.

I decide to improvise, and head back to the Northern Line. Twelve stops south of Moorgate is the quaintly named Tooting Bec. I feel quietly confident in saying that there has never been a design consultant anywhere near Tooting Bec. The suburb is full of small businesses that unselfconsciously mark out their territory.

The Café Espresso boasts ‘hot and cold meals cooked to the highest standards’. At the local Asian centre a sign announces that the vegetarian lunch club meets every day; the nonvegetarian club meets only on Saturdays. Holy Trinity parish has a one-page history stating that ‘there is little in the way of outstanding historical events’.

Returning to the station, I pass a piano on the pavement. I play a few bars of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. It isn’t up to Schönberg’s standard, but no one seems to mind.

Pros and cons

+ Excuse for eccentricity

– Uninspiring results

Magic of 12

‘Dodecaphony’ or serial music is the 12-tone method of musical composition developed by the controversial Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg (1874– 1951). When Schönberg abandoned tonality in favour of his mathematical technique (which might be described as ‘composition with constraints’), he did to music what the Cubist painters did to perspective – and was received with similar levels of popularity.

Schönberg was one of the most influential composers of modern times, but his work was rarely performed in his lifetime and was continuously attacked by critics, many of whom had never even heard it. Interestingly enough, Schönberg is said to have suffered from fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia).

Reproduced with permission from Everyday Adventures, © 2018 Lonely Planet, available at shop.lonelyplanet.com/products/everyday-adventures-1

Weave a little wonder into daily life and seek out urban solitude, take directions from a stranger, or do a good deed in the local community. Whatever adventure suits your mood, Everyday Adventures will inspire you to go exploring closer to home and discover a new side to where you live.


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