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LOUISE CANDLISH: IT’S TIME FOR A DIGITAL CLEANSE

What would you do without access to the internet at home? SW resident columnist Louise Candlish tries to encourage traditional, family fun without WiFi in her South West London home

 ‘We’ve got no internet,’ Andrew announces one rain-lashed Saturday morning. ‘I think it will be down all weekend.’

‘That’s a catastrophe,’ says our daughter, born to game and quick to catastrophise. ‘You mean no Netflix, no Amazon Prime Video, no TV, nothing?’

‘Except DVDs,’ I say. ‘Ooh, listen, Andrew, this might be the time to introduce the next generation to the Audrey Hepburn Collection?’

‘We tried that before, remember,’ he says. ‘We had to explain to a small child why a 20-year-old woman would allow herself to be seduced by a 70-year-old man.’

‘Funny Face,’ our daughter agrees, shuddering.

In fact, internet access allowed us to clarify while watching that Audrey was 27 and Fred Astaire 57 at the time of filming, a mere 30-year age gap scarcely any different from that today between Johnny Depp and his leading ladies, but still, the memory is enough to put me off dusting down Sabrina.

‘I’d better have another go at fixing it,’ Andrew says, leaving the room.

Audrey-Hepburn-in-Breakfast

The internet is down… this might be the time to introduce the next generation to the Audrey Hepburn Collection…

‘Right,’ I say, turning to the gamer. ‘This is an excellent opportunity–’

‘To loom?’

‘No, to look each other in the eye and have a conversation.’

‘You mean like in the olden days before electricity? When women just had to play the piano and wait for a man to marry them?’

‘If they weren’t down a mine or operating a mangle, yes. How about this to get the ball rolling: let’s each think of a nice compliment to pay the other.’

‘You go first,’ she says, ever the strategist.

‘Well, when you’re not staring at your DS or iPad or, indeed, loom, I can see that you have very beautiful eyes.’

‘Mums always say that,’ she scoffs. ‘Even the mum of a blind person would say that.’

‘You mean a blind mum?’

‘My turn now.’ She agonises for an indecent interval. ‘Well, I do like your hair – not now of course, but when you’ve just been to the hairdressers and there’s not any fuzzy grey bits…’ Warming to this conversation lark, she goes on to list my many physical faults – unsightly toes, bumpy nose, strange mole on eyebrow (strange? Just an ordinary mole, I thought), mini sideburns (Mini sideburns?) ‘But I know it’s more difficult to look good when you’re old,’ she adds. ‘It’s the same for all the mums.’

‘Yes, especially the blind ones.’

Andrew comes back. ‘Panic over,’ he tells her. ‘I’ve got the internet back. Fancy a quick game of World of Tanks?’

‘Don’t mind me,’ I say. ‘I’ll just watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s and stroke my sideburns.’

‘Whatever, Mum,’ they say, kindly.

Louise’s novel The Disappearance of Emily Marr is out now in paperback.

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