My online existence at the moment is a bit fzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pttttttttttttttttttt largely owing to the fact that a former flatmate crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrcccccccccccccrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr New Southgate with her computer, which has left fffffffffpppppppprrrrrrrrr really poor show at Scrabulous, and furthermore fzzzzzzzzz four, west by north-west, rising slowly, Dogger … ssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhccccccc only Sainsbury’s Online that was keeping me alive before, but fortunately my mother fzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and with only very occasional dallying in internet cafes I have been able to crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr A wandering minstrel la-di-da etc pppppppppppppppppppprrrrrrrrrrrrbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb except of course for the Highgate by-election, which I have just cccccccccccrrrrrrrrrrrrrzzzzzz schnell! schnell! and the situation could only have been saved by a truly improbably concatenation of circumstances such as pppppppprrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ddddddddddddddddddfffffffffffffffffffff woEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOO woEEEEEEEEEEEEE once knew a fellow who swore blind he’d tracked one through the Borneo jungle for three weeks, but not sure I believed him. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that ccccccccccccrrrrrrrrrrrrrr dum-di-dum-di-DUM dum-di-dum-di DUM DUM so you are really best off leaving a message at the Maid of Muswell.

Seriously, it’s really, really odd being without reliable internet access. I can’t do anything. Everything I think about doing is cut off, mid-plan. Hm, I’ll call Virgin and get internet access set up on the new machine! Yeah, I just need their number! Oh… Right, that application is nearly done, I’ll go to the library and bring it back so that I can… Wait, you can’t have a half handwritten job ap – I know, I’ll email it to myself! Oh…

And so on in the same vein, attended by the same sort of brainslip that occasionally makes me try to phone my keys when I can’t find them, or google my phone when I can’t find that. For instance, I have just, and this is absolutely true, spent ten minutes fiddling about with the Guardian website trying to find anything that resembles a TV listings guide (only the fecking Guardian would conceal such a lowly thing) before it dawned on me that I have been getting around this problem for the past three weeks by dint of, well, turning on the TV and seeing what’s on.

Lack of decent internet access has serious consequences for how I get my information, and has given me an insight into the data gathering and processing of the ornery, non-nerdy obsessive party member*. For the past month or so I have been largely reduced to hearing about what has been going on in the party through – gulp – the news. Why, only last week I was woken up by Nick Clegg saying things about the NHS that I did not know he was going to say in advance! And it occurs to me that quite a high quotient of my motivation to do things for the party comes from being in the know about this sort of stuff, and not learning about it four weeks later through a party news mailing.

A rather nice little newspaper about Clegg’s election came through the post in the middle of my information dearth, and it seemed such utterly old and irrelevant stuff that I checked the postmark to see if it had served time in the great North London Mail Mines, but no, this was how some members were first getting the party line on their new leader. Now, there isn’t a great deal you can do, in an age of digital information, about those who don’t have access to it except exhort them to bloody well hurry up or at least have the decency to fossilize where they sit and stop costing our free care for the elderly policy all that notional money. But you can, I suppose, bear in mind that even the net-savvy won’t necessarily be spending any spare time they have ogling Lib Dem Voice. Unimaginable though that is. 

Motivation begets motivation. If people make a tiny effort to be involved online, that effort is rewarded out of all proportion, probably (anecdotally) more so than the same-sized effort in “real life”. If we could work out a way to allow people to reap the same rewards in “real life”, we’d probably have a much more active membership. I am utterly lost without the internet, and – good god! – some people must feel like this all the time.

Despite being a member of about four months’ standing I have assumed the mantle of nerdy obsessive with my usual consummate ease.