The adventures of a newbie, as e-mailed to a friend; I told her I would have access to all the material I'd need for the novel that will get us out of Crouch End
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 18.22.53

Dear Rudy,

Testing, testing, surfing the net, rising the cyberwave. How much is that doggy in the window? Make mine a pint. Over and out, wing commander.

Yours ever, Digby

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 18.46.21

Dear Rudy,

You got it. Excellent! Me here, you over the water, writing letters in real time. How's life in the Big Apple? Get your wicked way with the delectable Della yet? Tell all. Dig.

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 18.54.44

OK, OK, I won't write "Dear Rudy" every time. No need to "flame" me - as I believe you cybersurfers have it. Sorry about that. Sorry, too, that Della turned out to be a bloke. But that's night-club culture for you. You ought to settle down. Since I shacked up with Nadine I haven't woken up once next to a strange transsexual.

Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 19.14.31

Whaddya mean, that might be more exciting? Things between Nadine and me are much improved since we last talked. The "adventurousness" business is now resolved to our mutual advantage - no thanks to your "try different locations" strategy.

The big bone of contention at no. 27a is not sex, but this machine. Nadine is convinced that the Internet and e-mail exist solely to enable men who are (in her phrase) "old enough to know better" to play inane games and look at mucky pictures. She fought me tooth and nail about getting connected. I told her all about the future of communications, the information revolution, new tools for new jobs, Nicholas Negroponte, World Wide Webs, the college of the cables. For an hour I enthused, I almost sang, I thumped the table and cut the air. I told her that I would have instant access to all the material I would need for the novel that will get us out of Crouch End (more of that later). Let me have a Pentium, I cried. Permit me quad speed CD-Rom, I begged. Indulge me with a 28.8 bps fax modem, I sobbed. Let me onto the Net, I screamed.

What was her reply? No. No. No. She said: "If you've got pounds 2,000 spare, you can bloody well buy us some new furniture, or even" - amazing though this may sound - "save it up! I want a bouncing baby, not a chattering chip. Don't give me this 'we can't afford it', in one breath and 'let me spend a fortune on the ultimate male fantasy toy', in the other."

Next day, in a moment of madness, I phone up Computers Direct. I speak to a nice guy called Rajiv who explains that six speed is the new standard for CD-Rom, 17" gives far better resolution for "regular users", and that 133 is the optimum chip size. And would you like it to answer the phone and record radio shows? Would I. Five minutes later I have used up all the credit on my new card, the machine will be delivered at the weekend and - elated though I am - I have a lot of explaining to do.

In the end all she does when she sees the boxes is sigh, and tell me that all that fine speech I'd given had better be true. Or else. So there wasn't much adventure that weekend. Which ends the story of how I came to be on the Net.

Now the world is at my fingertips.

Question is, Rudy, where do I go?

Bfn, as we old hands say. Dig.

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 17.15.14

Amazing, amazing, amazing! Why didn't I do this before? N is out for the day having a mutual man-bash with Hera, the Harridan from Hades. My ears would be red if it weren't that I've been too busy visiting all the sites you suggested. It's all here! The lesbian poetry group, the Crystal Palace Supporters Club, advice on acne, and (of course) the, er, exotic pictures. Wow!

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 20.51.03

I am in deep shit, old mate. Managed to get on the screen. No idea what it was until Eloise from Switzerland shows up, baring all. Failed to hear the key in the door. First thing I know is Nadine's fuming presence just behind me as, in desperation, I hit the off switch. Disaster! Had I stayed cool I might have got away with it - explained that I was browsing, shown her all the innocent sites I'd visited etc. Instead she got a nanosecond of outsized mammaries, followed by my obvious panic and chronic guilt. God, I tried to explain and even (the horror, the horror) heard myself telling N that I wasn't a tits man. Whyohwhy am I such a plonker?

She's gone to bed early. What on Earth am I going to do?

Date: Sun, 11 Feb 1996 18.22.53

Plonker? Tell you some other time. Good advice, mate, thanks. Went into - and found six other guys (three in California) who had the same problem. Randy from Santa Monica says only way out is to convert N to the Web, using "the one thing that hits her spot". Searching for:, furniture and Will keep you posted. Bfn. Yours shaken, Dig.