Cut off

For the past few weeks Chez Stocks has been internet-free thanks to British Telecom taking eons to change over the broadband account after my housemate (the one responsible for Lentil Gate, for those who followed on Twitter) moved out.

I like to think of myself as the kind of gal who isn’t materialistic and could get by without all the luxuries of modern life if need be. Heck, I even went camping with Gob of the Wash last year and didn’t use a hair dryer for four whole days.

However, not having t’interweb has proved that I am shamefully addicted to technology and electronic communication. How on earth did we get by in the olden days?! I’m actually having to make phone calls if I want to talk to people, I’m having to stay late at work so I can blog and I had to physically go into a building society today to pay a bill because I can’t do online banking. It’s like living in the Dark Ages.

Anyway, over-dramatics aside, my current situation has given me a whole new appreciation for how people in rural areas feel when they live without broadband or with temperamental dial-up access. It’s actually pretty isolating not being able to communicate with people as I’d like to, or find information as soon as I need it.

That’s why being told they have to fill in their myriad of government forms online must make so many farmers want to scream. Yes, it’s great to not have to faff about with bits of paper and envelopes and the useless mail system, but the move to an electronic world only works if everyone is on an even footing in terms of access.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like the government’s quite got its head around the idea, and it’s latest wheeze is that farmers have to fill in their tax forms online if their turnover’s more than £100k. And if you haven’t got broadband to do it? Well, you can just nip round to a friend’s house and use their computer, apparently. Handy suggestion, if your nearest neighbour’s an hour away.

Maybe I should drop HMRC an email when I get home to tell them what a bonkers idea it is. Oh, wait…

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