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This column comes to you from an isolated farmhouse in the southern Cape, to which I’ve decamped for a week to celebrate a birthday and get away from it all. One of the selling points of the place is that there is no internet connectivity, not even on your mobile, so you can really remove yourself from that continuous barrage of Slack, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Trello and e-mail messages, and opt out of the endless round of Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter updates.

To even further simulate the simpler times of the 19th century, there’s often no electricity, so you get to sit in the dark with a flickering candle and an old Almanack, poring over the latest cures for impala dropsy and designs for hyper-modern, turn-of-the-century (the one before last) long-drop toilets...

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