The emails and text messages that annoy me fall into a particular category. Some deluded marketing wonk thinks they are helping me, by (a) stating the obvious, or (b) telling me about something I am not interested in.

Don’t get me wrong – on a quiet day I love to be prompted to waste hours browsing around retail websites carefully selected for my target demographic, whatever that is. Well, I say “love”, but to be honest at best it can fill a rainy afternoon. And that’s the point. Even in autumnal England, even in the wake of a few days of uncharacteristic downpours, excessive by our globally acknowledged broad and generous standards, even then, that quiet rainy afternoon is pretty elusive.

I know they have a job to do. In some cases they probably genuinely think it is helpful. But they are in a queue, the one that comprises all my other hobbies, chores, hopes, fears and ambitions for my day. The laundry, washing up, project plan, shopping, music practice, phone call to whichever company has messed up another Direct Debit, dentist appointment, voluntary work commitment, bank transfer to hungry offspring at university, yoga, phone call / email to sick friend I haven’t contacted for months (she has been on the list an awful long while!) – you get the picture, and I expect it is familiar. If you want to transfer money to my hungry offspring, by the way, feel free. It will be good for your soul.

So when my mailbox fills up with messages about handbags or, in a moment of technical failure, penis enlargements, I do get tetchy. I know that buried in the dross will be something important about the school, or a friend, or a bill. So I need to wade through and spend my evening triaging the flood. (With that level of stress is it any wonder if I mix a metaphor or two?)

However, it is one I plan for, just as shops plan for a certain level of shoplifting, or management plans for a certain number of sick days, or York plans for floods. That may be the most depressing thing of all; that I, and no doubt you, just grin and bear it. While I have decided to view it as a way of controlling my destiny rather than being swamped by powerlessness, in the back of mind a little voice says, with Gallic deprecation, and enunciated around a Gauloise Bleue, “Eh bien. Self-delusion is a wonderful thing. “

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