Why is it that, try as I might, I simply can't keep up with modern technology?

As I say every time the office computer crashes and a huge posse from the department we call 'systems' come scurrying in my direction, there's a conspiracy at work.

Someone, somewhere -- maybe it's Bill Gates, who I've derided a couple of times in the column -- doesn't want me to progress technologically beyond the Stone Age.

The evidence is overwhelming:

I buy a vacuum cleaner, the very next day there's a model unveiled that's, apparently, far superior to all that's gone before. A machine that is so powerful it can suck up dirt not just from your own living room but next door's too. AND it doesn't have a bag. AND you can see what you've vacuumed up. AND it makes tea and coffee (well, I'm not sure about that, but from what I've heard it probably does).

I bought a word processor literally the week before they became were assigned to the great computing scrapyard in the sky. Only weeks later, anyone who was anyone was buying a super-fast, multi-functional Apple Mac or an ultra-efficient Dell.

My dad buys me a mobile phone for Christmas, which is great until, six months later, I try to find a little pouch to keep it in. "We haven't got any that big," I was told by a spotty youth who reacted as if it were steam powered: "Where DID you get this? You'll find that mobiles are a lot smaller now," he said, pointing at some object not much larger than a custard cream.

As regular readers of this column know, my husband and I acquired our first washing machine only last year. Yet just months later there's a so-called new breed of machine that will wash your whites and your coloureds at the same time, in separate drums.

I bought a cassette recorder only weeks before CDs became all the rage.

And now, only eight months after we became the extremely proud owners of our very first video cassette recorder (another Christmas present), the machine is being assigned to technological history as DVD players that can record and re-record millions of hours of footage of a far better quality hit the shops. I haven't even mastered the thing yet -- my skills amount to pressing play, stop and eject. As for recording something at a future date -- well, that would be like asking me to wire up a solar panel on a space station. I'm still learning, yet already I've been overtaken and everyone else will soon have moved to an entirely new system.

It's all so irritating that I'm tempted to regress. Get rid of it all and bring in an old wireless, a washboard, a rickety manual typewriter and wind-up telephone. Visitors would be much more impressed. Far from sneering at our obsolete goods, they'd be raving about all our fabulous antiques.