LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...Thank goodness for unexpected items in the bagging area...

Customer service seems like it is well on the way to be added to the list of things only the older generation remember.

Along with a time where fuel prices didn’t make you want to cry and being famous required talent.

Yes, my inner grandma is getting carried away again but I do have a point.

A trip to the supermarket is a classic example. Cashiers have been replaced with self-service checkouts, the idea being it saves time as you do the scanning, bagging and paying yourself.

The reality being that the machine will tell you that you have done it wrong and you have to wait as the poor person looking after six machines at once has to come over and help anyway.

I can see the thinking behind it: six checkouts for the price of one wage. So it saves money, but at what cost?

Technology has already reduced most communication to a screen. Even friends gathered together at the pub sit engaged in their own separate mobile-phone-sized worlds.

It’s sad. And what is sadder is that it is getting to the stage where it is considered to be the norm. My friend and I visited one particular bank this week, which shall not be named, and we had to climb two floors just to see a person. A fact which contradicts its claim of being the ‘world’s local bank’, unless they have given the faceless machines accents that is.

Even my favourite refuge in the world, the library, has been invaded.

For me, books are all about interaction, despite reading being a solitary pursuit; the pages come to life when you get to share them with someone afterwards.

So imagine my disappointment when I found I was met by a blue neon glow rather than a smile when I stepped into Chichester’s library the other day.

And what made it worse was that the day before I had been to Bognor’s and exchanged ideas with the man there about our views of my favourite author.

And it struck me, without this interaction all you have is a room full of things but empty of warmth.

* Meanwhile, in Africa

I hope you enjoyed the moaning ‘musical interlude’ above.

As readers of last week will know I jetted off to Gambia for a long weekend, as you do.

However all going to plan, including my notepad not getting lost in transit, next week I will tell you how I got on.

Including my time visiting the schools helped by Bognor Regis-based charity Nyodema and all the glitz and glamour of The Gambia Experience’s hotels...