Last week when BT went down, I lost my internet connection and since I run an on-line picture agency, it meant missing potential sales.
After five fruitless hours of trying to fix it, I had to revert to an Internet Cafe to contact clients.
As a travel writer, I have used Cyber Cafes all over the world. The best in Ghana with 100 computers was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. And so clean you could eat off the floor: a sharp contrast to my experience in the Internet Café from Hell, on the Wandsworth Road in south London.
Sandwiched between Express Cars (Nigerian) and Winta Halal (Eritrean) it had five computers, only two of which were working. And six broken chairs.
In one corner of the cafe, five men, seated at a small table, were shouting at each other in Amharic. A plasma TV on the wall above me beamed iftar prayers from Mecca and a Russian beside me was using Skype. The last straw was a dog at the door barking its head off in English.
As if this wasn`t enough din when composing emails, a man came in wearing a white blanket like they do in the Ethiopian Highlands, and began auctioning a pair of brown leather shoes: size 12. (even I was approached to buy them).
An over-heating coffee machine and the waitress yelling down the stairs in Arabic to someone, possibly the manager taking a Ramadan nap, contributed to the racket.
I suddenly stood up and screamed, `I`m going to shoot myself`!`
For a second there was silence (except for the coffee machine). Then the racket started up again as if I didn`t exist.
Acknowledging a sign `Haff an hor 50 pince`, I placed a coin on the counter, returned home, and poured myself a large whisky.
Happily my internet is now fixed.