It started off innocently enough. Husband and I were sitting doing our annual budget. (Yes, I know it’s August, but we were quite busy round the end of last year, ok?). It struck us that, compared to the offers we continually get through our letterbox, we seemed to be paying rather a lot for our landline/broadband deal, and I volunteered to phone our provider and see if I could negotiate it down a bit.
I was told that I could get £15 off our monthly bills, but only if I closed my existing account, and opened a new one as a new customer. I was rather sceptical about this, but was comprehensively reassured that it was just a technical formality and wouldn’t affect my service in the slightest. Can you hear my hollow yet slightly manic laughter?
The next thing to happen was that I dropped my iPhone on a tiled floor and smashed it to smithereens. I felt slightly uncomfortable about being out of touch, but before you can say ‘addict’ I was on Facebook telling everyone I knew to message me on there instead of texting.
Which would have worked perfectly. Except that when they reassured me that my service would be unaffected by the change in contract, what they omitted to add was ‘oh, except for the fact that we will cut off your broadband and change your landline number without telling you that we’re going to, or giving you your new number.’
By Tuesday evening I had no mobile, no internet and although I could make landline calls, no-one knew my number to call me, and actually, most of my friends’ numbers are stored on my smashed mobile anyway. My husband joked to me that it was *gasp* like I was living in the nineties. And after picking up the remains of his dinner off the floor and applying an ice pack to his black eye he realised that it was no laughing matter.
The thing is, it isn’t like being in the nineties because habits and expectations have changed so radically. In the nineties I knew all my friends’ landline numbers off by heart, and they knew mine. When you made arrangements to meet people you actually had to turn up at an appointed place on time. Instead of a blog I had a journal. If you wanted to watch a programme but wouldn’t be in at the time you set the VCR rather than relying on iPlayer later. I’m not sure what you did when you wanted to sell some outgrown baby stuff, order a stair gate or fire guard, communicate the same message to several friends instantly and simultaneously, check the weather forecast at a moment’s notice, or alleviate the cabin fever which comes after four rainy days on the trot at the fag end of the summer holidays, but I do know I couldn’t do it this week.
Looking on the bright side, all this, preceded by a week in Cornwall, has given me a (my husband would say much needed) digital detox. Inspired by the Cornish holiday, and undistracted by blogs, Twitter and Facebook, I re-read Jamaica Inn and Rebecca. I’ve entertained Anna with making pizza, muffins and chocolate fridge cake, cycling in the park, visits to the library, weeding the front garden, getting her paints out, and reading a lot of Famous Five. I’ve entertained Sophia (in, to be fair, the usual way) by blowing raspberries on her tummy, singing the Grand Old Duke of York with appropriate back-breaking actions, and removing the cotton wool/feathers/leaves/pages of magazine/bits-of-toast-still-on-the-floor-from-yesterday’s-breakfast from her mouth on a regular basis.
And I’ve discovered that my entry for the Number One Most Annoying Thing Award is being put on hold for 30 minutes while trying to complain about your broadband having been cut-off, and being told by an electronic voice every thirty seconds to ‘try the help section on our website’. Grr. Do you have your own contender for this?