12/08/2014 09:11 BST | Updated 11/10/2014 06:59 BST

When Email Becomes Efail

There are currently over 4 billion email addresses in the world. It's a miracle I'm only I thought I'd have been a much higher number. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a christmas party and meet all the other Paul Marshall's (1 through to 266 and beyond) who are also on Yahoo? In a word, No.

Still, I have a feeling that could be quite a riot.

Anyway, if this seems like a huge amount of addresses, it's nothing compared to the amount of emails. Almost 200 billon are sent and received each day.

You could be forgiven for thinking that a good percentage of these - 1.7 billion, at least - end up in your inbox. They certainly seem to end up in mine.

Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping...Hold on, there's another 161,238 come in. Excuse me while I take the next 14 days off to plough through them all.

Right, I'm back. Not surprisingly, only 10 of them were important enough to elicit a response.

Isn't that always the way though? Most emails are complete junk, yet we can't stop checking them to make absolutely sure.

The first thing we do when we wake up is to check our emails. The last we do before going to bed is to check our emails. In the middle of the night we check our emails. Yes, sleep checking is the 21st century's sleep walking. Funny how you don't remember responding to that particular call to action. Sorry, but it's too late now. The new Mercedes you have no recollection of leasing is arriving this afternoon.

We check our emails on the toilet. We check them on the train or bus. We check them the instant we get into the office. We check them the moment we leave. We check them on holiday. We check them while skiing down mountains. We check them while sitting in front of the TV. We check them in the cinema. Much to the annoyance of the rest of the audience, we then call the person who sent us the message to tell them that we've just sent them back a reply.

In addition, we check our emails when we're out for dinner. We check them in the taxi on the way home. We check them in church- it was always inevitable that God would eventually find some way to get in touch. We check them...come to think of it, when and where don't we check them? I'd like to say in a hospital operating theatre during open heart surgery, but wait a minute, where's that ping coming from? Well, it ain't the cardiac monitor.

This makes it all the more distressing each time technology fails us and suddenly our email accounts go down. You constantly find yourself staring at your device in a state of sweaty distress and blind panic as it informs you that it can't connect to your mail server.

Now what????!!!!

Whenever such disaster strikes, as it frequently does, it makes you wonder exactly how any of us coped before this electronic revolution.

Of course, some of us are old enough to remember the telex machine. Some of us still use the fax, although admittedly it's now usually eFax. Some of us can even just about recall the telegram. This was the equivalent of sending an email on high importance. The last ever one was sent on July 15, 2013 in India.

Here's a thought. The next time you can't access your emails, get out your personally embossed stationery from Smythson and write a letter.

Providing you haven't lost the ability to hold a pen-apparently, the best way is between the thumb and index finger, resting the barrel on the lower part of the middle digit- you can expect a reply in about a week. That's if it doesn't get lost in the post.

Alternatively, since this is the centenary of the First World War, you could always resort to the good old-fashioned carrier pigeon.

As a way of getting messages read and replied to, they were unbeatable 100 years go. So why not today? Having said that, they are a lot messier than a PC or an iphone.

Oh, thank heavens! Modern day communication has been restored. Pigeons everywhere can be returned to their lofts. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping...emails are finally starting to come through again.

In my case, there's not much of any great significance. Mind you, this one from the aforementioned looks as if it might be worthy of further examination.