by Phillippa Goodwin “Ok, so let’s tackle the reconciliation of petty cash in 09/10 this evening and get that task out of the way before Christmas” Phillippa speaks to herself a great deal. I settle down with a pile of receipts, a glass of chilled white wine (my first), the laptop on the dining room table and my mind in the right place for this particular task. I was feeling prepared and very happy to face this awful task (working on my business). Within two minutes my world had turned upside down – I had managed to spill the entire glass of wine over the dining room table and the keyboard of my MacBook Pro. Kitchen paper (no, it doesn’t soak up as much as it says it will), dishcloth (needed rinsing first), aerosol “air” duster (why I don’t know) – it was all in vain. The laptop continued to work for a while and I thought fabulous, no harm done but the alcohol was hard at work within the depths of my beauty. I turned the machine off and thought that if I left it on its side ……. I’m good at other logic. It was slightly worrying that there was a continuous although tiny seepage of wine from the CD drive … I fired up my standby PC ready for my planned 11pm Skype chat with my sweetheart over in Sussex. I could see and hear him but he could neither hear nor see me. We were both distraught by now! I thought that leaving my moist Mac in the airing cupboard overnight would work a treat – what? Before I went to bed I set up all the email addresses that I use with my clients (phillippa @, phillippa@ and phillippa@) so that work could continue seamlessly and no-one would know what a fool I had been. Monday dawned and we had far too much snow for PG to consider venturing into the Apple Store in Exeter. The PC was up and running, emails were coming in and out, and work was continuing as normal. I let on to some special people about my misfortune and they told the whole of FB – but I forgive him! (Editor’s note – oops – sorry) I made the call to the insurance company – no problem at all Mrs G and breathed a sigh of relief. But you will have to take your machine into the Apple Store for an assessment. My husband came to the rescue with his 4X4 after lunch and we skidded into Exeter – there’s an awkward silence between us because we separated in the summer and it feels rather odd that he’s helping me out – but we are grown ups and have a very calm and amicable relationship these days. I find Apple Store assistants rather arrogant – don’t know about you. Sorry Mrs G you can’t leave your MacBook with us for an assessment; we don’t have an assessment appointment available this afternoon; could you come back tomorrow at 1:40? I’ve no choice but to agree – to lots of things – yes, I shouldn’t have spilled the wine over my MacBook, yes it’s never going to work again, yes I have to spend money with you now on a new machine, yes, I can manage to drive in to Exeter again tomorrow, yes I’m happy that the MacBook is now £200 more than it was 12 months ago, yes I won’t do it again, yes you are more clever than me, yes I’m humiliated. Just hand over the cash and be done with it. I cheer up at the thought of setting up the new beauty in the sanctuary of my home in Bovey Tracey. As I write this task is now complete and my new MacBook looks exactly like the old one – without the white wine – identical files, folders and applications – because I have an external hard drive ‘Time Machine’. Lesson one – for a VA – leave your work laptop – the tools of your trade – on your work desk. Don’t drink & drive. Lesson two – have a back up PC and / or laptop – a lifesaver. Lesson three – make sure you take regular back ups and by that I mean back up to an external hard drive at the same time every day of the week – without fail. Lesson four – insure your kit. Lesson five – know who you can turn to for help – technical, emotional and physical.