​Should I start on a positive note?  No, I might lose my devotees to shock!  Better to savour the anticipation of that which lies ahead.
So, darkness falls all around … more like it?  That just came into my head and, if I am correct, that is a line from the intro to ‘Thriller’?  Never liked the song but, then, who cares?  Certainly not Michael Jackson.  Ah, the ease and enjoyment I derive from waffling …
Down to the nitty gritty of my difficult week and, of note, my difficult day on Monday.  Those who know me are well aware of my technical ability but, to make matters worse, my two offspring – to whom I have always been suitably devoted – are also useless!  Isn’t it payback time for the minions?!  Maybe they missed that memo.  Anyway, at precisely 9.25am on Monday morning, my phone informed me that it was no longer able to access emails.  A minor blip, I thought, and decided to enjoy the lack of incoming bad news whilst it lasted.  It continued to ‘last’, however, and it dawned on me that, in addition to my phone, the computer was unable to bring me glad tidings either!  Oh, well.  Keep calm.  Remind oneself that one is an intelligent human being and … can I remember my password to verify my email?  Pretty much.  I am very loyal to my password, if one gets my drift. 
Loyalty is not always rewarded, however, and having messaged Manny – and tried every combination of what I believed to be my password – I resigned myself to foul play.  No other explanation.  Didn’t help with how to solve the problem, though … where’s the Mother Abbess when one needs her? No joviality.  Aka the Mother Abbess, I have just discovered that I made a mistake in the quotation I had carved in marble by our friend, Sandro, on the Via Margutta.  Strangely fitting.  A reason to return …
If I digress any further, I shall have no room for my injection of positivity.  Back to my difficult day.  I could, actually, just cut to the chase and explain that, having wasted much of it and phoned all but the speaking clock, it was suggested that I had no choice but to call Virgin Media and put the remainder of my Monday on hold! Thankfully, my landline does still function sufficiently to enable outgoing calls.  On the other hand, anyone trying to make contact with me is not even afforded one ring before being cut off.  Should I be paying extra for such a service?!  Unwanted callers believe I have moved without notice whilst the chosen ones can reach me on my mobile – email somewhat less reliable, obviously.  In all seriousness – referring to my landline problem – I have no idea what is wrong.  I can only presume it to be the actual phone as it no longer emits even one strangled ring.  Ever thrifty (pause for laughter), I refuse to pay a call out charge in the realms of £129 to BT so, from time to time, I crawl under the desk in the study and challenge the melee of wires with a view to establishing that of the phone/answering machine.  To date, the only thing shot is my patience!
For anyone still dying to know the outcome of my email problem, might I end by saying that I succeeded in speaking to a very nice gentleman – not convinced we shared the same time zone but, whatever – and I, quickly, learned that Virgin Media had decided my password was out of date and, subsequently, blocked it.  In addition, I could not sign in to change said ancient password as my email address could not be verified without it!  No words.  Thankfully, I was so grateful – and impressed – that I had managed to access my emails, once more, that I let it go.  Plus the guy was so helpful …  However, forewarned is forearmed.  For my part, I have had to tweak my old password but of more concern is the realization that I am ‘addicted’ to emails.  That is the most awful admission.  Remedy?  Get a life!
I think, perhaps, this would be a good point at which to inject the positivity I promised.  So … skimming through The Daily Telegraph, the other day, my eye was caught by a feature headlined by the quote, ‘Digital devices have no place in childhood’.  Wow!  There are others like me somewhere.  One such person, about whom the piece is written, is Mr Peter Phillips, Headmaster of S. Anselm’s Prep School in the heart of the Peak District. 
S. Anselm’s prides itself on being a school at which ‘children can remain children for as long as possible’.  Herein lies its very ethos and, as such, smart phones are banned while laptops and tablets are restricted.  Peter Phillips believes that ‘electronic devices of any type have no place in childhood’.  He goes on to say the following: ‘Phones are a burden and self-absorbing.  What I want is for children to be unburdened and not distracted so that they can concentrate on each other.’ 
Meanwhile, India Sturgis writes that ‘The Office for National Statistics found that children who spent three hours or more on social media during the school day reported more than twice the number of mental health problems as those who spent no time online.  Doctors have likened the effects of tech addiction on young minds to cocaine dependence.  Reliance can breed anxiety, fuel low self-esteem and give bullies an anonymous 24/7 playground.  So it’s for those such as           Mr Phillips, who are leading the charge against the new digital order, that we should be grateful.’  Amen to that! No point, whatsoever, in attempting any form of précis.
Mr Phillips, one of only two heads out of 60 to ban the use of smartphones at an Independent Association of Prep Schools conference this year, is quite happy to be regarded as ‘some sort of fruitcake’.  He admits that he must deal with some modern-day parents who struggle to say ‘No’ to their precious offspring or the ones who are frightened of them but he is prepared to face the ‘slings and arrows’ in his bid to make a stand for something he considers of paramount importance. 
He makes it clear that S. Anselm’s is not antiquated.  Far from being devoid of technology, it boasts an innovation studio filled with all the latest equipment and the digital age is very much recognised in the curriculum albeit under supervision.  Genius.
Inherent in this subject is another very real worry acknowledged by this wonderful headmaster: namely, the demise of textbooks and, in reality, books in general.  An obvious progression in this online age with an outcome too horrific to contemplate!  I cannot, nor choose to imagine a world without books.  Firing the imagination, they are a source of knowledge, comfort, escapism; encouraging individual thought and interpretation, they remain a foil to the grey, cloned world of today.  I started reading at the age of six and have never stopped.  The joy – and solace – the written word has brought me is immeasurable.  The shelves in the kitchen are groaning under the weight and those denied a place are piled high everywhere else!  They define me.  One need only skim the titles to glean something of my history and passions.  A true expose, I keep all my books and have never understood those who discard them once read.  They are a part of me; old friends.
‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’   Marcus Tullius Cicero
Forget minimalism and whacky interior designers.  Buy a bookcase or put up some shelves and add colour and character to your home.  Cloning is nothing more than a lack of imagination and courage.  Thank goodness for those such as Peter Phillips!
Let me finish with the final paragraph from that inspiring newspaper article, courtesy of India Sturgis.  A positive note!
‘As morning break begins, we wander through the school, weaving in between children spilling out of classrooms, arm-in-arm.  Two boys queue up to show Mr Phillips their swimming medals.  Noise fills the halls as pupils catch up with friends face-to-face, concerned only with real life playing out in front of them.’
The Daily Telegraph, Thursday, 2 November 2017.
There is hope.
This is Trish, signing off.