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I Skype my Dad every couple of days.

Last night the Skype picture was pretty rubbish – in fact it was so out of sync that the picture was about two minutes behind the sound, so I had to carry on the conversation just by listening.

Yes, it was my Dad, and yes, he’s a familiar voice, and yes, he knows how to talk to me. But the picture didn’t improve and we sustained the conversation for half an hour without any lipreading (except the bits where his lips suddenly moved and I recognised something he’d said a bit earlier: a sort of sliding-doors parallel universe, where the video went one way and the audio another). At one point Dad disappeared out of his chair and suddenly reappeared as if by magic – the picture skipped him getting up to fetch the paper to read out something to me.

Our chat was full of the usual random stuff that we swap – from local gossip to my cousin’s op to the latest news on the world stage.

I’m pretty pleased with that – it’s not a bad way to mark three years since activation. We’ve managed before in the same way on previous occasions when the Skype picture has frozen, but last night’s big freeze was exceptionally acute and prolonged. What makes it even better, really, is that Dad is getting quite hard-of-hearing now, but he managed without difficulty too. We can still have a dialogue of the deaf that works.

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