thanks guys for quick response.this sounded promising, but i checked, and the box is not ticked. I have also now discovered that it disconnects me as soon as I go into the send/receive panel...it has only done this since i changed from the evenings/weekend package (with Tiscali/BT) to the 24 hour free access package (Tiscali only).... maybe this is relevant?
Check in Control Panel - Internet Options - Connections. You should probably have "Dial whenever a network connection is not present" ticked.
However, if you prefer, tick the "Never dial a connection" box. You will get a warning box if you are not connected. The only drawback is that you will have to remember to terminate your connection when you have finished. Make sure that you have a default time-out to save a huge phone bill.