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Nation speaks unto nation in the brave new world of the email

PUBLISHED: 18:44 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 September 2010

It s amazing how email has changed our lives, and mostly for the better, I m glad to say. It puts instant communication at our fingertips, an invention which is right up there with newspapers, radio, television and the omnipresent mobile phone. The proble

It's amazing how email has changed our lives, and mostly for the better, I'm glad to say. It puts instant communication at our fingertips, an invention which is right up there with newspapers, radio, television and the omnipresent mobile phone.

The problem is that unlike phones and television, you can't turn email off quite so easily and even when you do, there's a price to pay. Usually its in the form of an overwhelming backlog which demands attention in one way or another.

Having been away for no more than 10 days, I return to find a virtual torrent of correspondence piled up and awaiting inspection.

Hours are spent sifting for nuggets of information that are actually of some use or importance, as opposed to unsolicited approaches offering me the chance to win a Ferrari, buy an honorary degree, improve my life insurance with no questions asked (the fools!) - not to mention enhancing what's left of my manhood and encouraging me to purchase all kinds of dubious pills for '88 per cent less' (less than what, I wonder).

I also ignore the invitation to 'Discover America'. According to what I remember of my history classes, Christopher Columbus beat me to it a long time ago. Also ignored apart from the most cursory of glances are salutations written in Greek, Russian, German and Chinese. Truly, nation does speak unto nation in this bold new internet age.

And no, Elmo Guy from California, I would not like to chat with you even if you are 'a nice girl who is bored this afternoon', as you claim to be. Nor do I want to see your pictures, however innocent they might be, so please stop writing - and that goes for your hundreds of friends who send me identical emails using an apparently endless list of different names and who collectively resist all attempts to be classified and weeded out as 'spam' or 'junk'.

Even a thoughtful invitation to help the son of a Dubai businessman move six million US dollars out of the Middle East in return for a sizeable percentage of the proceeds, is discarded amid the growing mountain of email detritus now occupying my folder marked deleted.

All this prompts me to offer a prize for the best (publishable) email story sent to me this week. My address, just in case you're one of the increasingly small number of people who don't already have it, is geoff.martin@hamhigh.co.uk.

As usual, a bottle of best Ham&High bubbly is up for grabs, and for those of you who still put your trust in the Royal Mail, you can also write to me at 100a Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, Hampstead NW3 3HF.

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