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Going off the rails, and other stories: Penelope Mortimer's tale

'I was staying in France and one of my daughters rang me and said: 'There's been a break-in and the computers, printers - everything has gone.'

'I said: 'What about the disks, are they still there?' I'd been working on About Time Too, the second volume of my autobiography and everything was on disk. I came home, dashed in. No disks. More than three year's work down the drain.

'Despair totally set in. I just couldn't face the idea of starting from scratch. That was Thursday. The next Wednesday through the letterbox came two exceptionally neatly wrapped packets.

'I opened them and there was every single disk returned. Not only that but the thieves had copied on to a lovely bright red floppy affair everything that was on the hard disk and called it 'Penelope's Work'.

'I was so happy, grateful and relieved that I really didn't give a damn about the word-processor.'