ISP fascism, Telecoms incompetence, meteorites, and more mouseshit.

This posting is brought to you by Beishon Magic Lanterns of Villeneuve-sur-Lot

There are two things paramount (among the many hundreds of things that concern me about software giants and ISPs) that I find creepily irksome. One is the tendency to do things without asking the customer; the other is remorseless selling – but without providing any ability to answer their brainless suggestions.

To explain simply by analogy, how would it be if you went down to your local supermarket, and as you walked in a sales assistant collared you to announce, “Hi! I just dropped some duck eggs down your chimney, because every day is Christmas at Tesbury!” You would recoil, I’d imagine. You’d probably think this sad person had suffered some form of brain trauma involving a leakage of intelligence via the ears.

But supposing that person then went on to say – wrestling you to the ground with a smile as he did so – “Don’t forget to stock up on steak, which is on offer this week at a staggering £3.50 per lb if you buy a whole cow!” and you then replied “But my freezer is tiny and I’m a vegetarian”, only to see  the mad person walk away muttering “No reply no reply no reply no reply”.

And suppose further still that you went to the service desk and explained what had happened, and the woman behind it said, “Sorry, that doesn’t match any of our standard questions, would you like to sit in one of our chat rooms here and ask other customers that question?”

I very much doubt you’d ever go to that store again. Indeed, I think it highly possibly that you’d ring the NHS mental helpline to report an outbreak of acute craziness likely to result in mass suicide once the cult was surrounded by the SAS or State Troopers, depending on your location either side of the Pond.

And yet nobody seems to apply these normal, everyday standards of discernment to the execrable behaviour of online suppliers.

Yesterday – after a particularly stressful twelve days of moving from an old life to a new – Microsoft downloaded a completely unwanted update I hadn’t asked for, and which they had no right to foist on me. After doing so, they insisted I restart the pc. After complying grudgingly, I found none of my programs would open.

This has happened so many times now, I know the procedure required to get things back to normal by heart. But the madness of it all is that I used a Microsoft-derived procedure to get rid of something Microsoft had supplied.

The bottom line of all this is there for any five-year-old of average intelligence to see: we order you about and then ignore what you say in return. This is not a supplier/customer relationship, it’s the forerunner of a master/slave relationship.

Later that same afternoon, O2 pinged my mobile phone (already dangerously low on PAYG funds) to remind me that I would lose out on some other daft offer or other if I didn’t top up before midnight. When I tried to do so by going to the O2 space, it said, “There is a problem, check your internet settings”. I checked them. I even re-entered them. I went back to the O2 space, and it said, “There is a problem, check your internet settings”. I can’t go on the Net to see how to do it online because (see earlier) and you can’t reply to any of their happy-snappy messages. This is because these clowns are like sharks: they have to eat, f**k and keep moving, or they die: any message suggesting the rest of us have a problem with that goes miles above what passes for the contents of their wooden heads.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Talking of wooden heads, as my only source of news at the moment is the television, I am finally beginning to grasp fully why the MSM plonkers are so keen to get the internet under some form of ‘control’. Mainstream news ‘coverage’ is exactly that: the covering of an event in multiple layers of banality. So for instance this morning, I watch as a white South African is charged with premeditated murder, and for some reason the BBC needs to have a bloke outside the courtroom coming to us live, and reporting that he doesn’t actually know anything more than we’ve already been told. What on earth is the point of that, beyond being yet another way to waste money…and make the BBC an even bigger target for the barbarians to bash?

At times however, the coverage goes from superficial to silly, and this is what still makes most news channels richly entertaining. Today’s example involved the shower of meteorite debris that fell on Russia. From the outset of BBCNews coverage, it was clear that neither the studio anchors nor the on-the-spotters in the field had the remotest clue about any detail at all. It felt like the producers were going out of their way to make this is as obvious as possible, as if that might somehow add to the tension. My tensions in other areas of life were in fact greatly relieved, because I laughed out loud at the exchanges between anchors and fielders.

“Can you tell us,” the first anchor asked, “what size and speed are involved here?”

“No” said the reporter, who looked she might be on a work placement scheme.

“I see,” he continued gamely, ” and do you know how much debris is involved?”

“No,” she responded, “but we know there was a blinding flash and a loud bang and then lots of things falling from the sky”.

“Ah,” said anchorman, “what was the loud bang caused by?”

“It’s not clear,” she answered, adding, “Could be when it hit the ground or maybe it broke the sound barrier or something”. She was trying to flesh out what she didn’t know. This was admirable, and encouraged studio robot to keep going.

“And the blinding flash?”

“That’s what we’d expect with a meteorite,” she offered.

How far could deskjob take this? What colour was it? What shape? Was it married? Did she know the security digits on its credit card?

But by now we had moved on to look at lots of black people standing outside a courtroom in Pretoria. The sum total of knowledge we gained from this bit was that the defendant was white and had wept. The people we could see were described as “milling about”. The court building we could see was described as “a court building”. It was like watching television that thought it was radio.

Back at the meteor shower, there was more: a lot of people had been frightened and some had been injured, but not badly.

France Telecom’s failure to fix my phone line after six days is far more interesting, but it has yet to feature on BBCNews. I was listening to a programme about Scott the other day…..he of the Antarctic. His wife apparently believed for years after he’d frozen to death that the explorer was just fine, and would turn up before too long. I have a degree of similar expectation as regards France Telecom, but I lack Mrs Scott’s unshakeable faith. My line was supposed to be fixed this morning, but it’s now 7 pm French time and there is nothing but the chilling silence of ether in my ear’ole.

So I am bored. I am more bored than a Texas oil well with a penchant for being infinitely bored. I have to be incredibly bored before I’ll turn to DIY, but it has happened at last. The thought tends to run, ‘While I’m here shovelling mouseshit, I might as well make this area better than it was’. So the kitchen has been re-art directed, the understairs tool cupboard now looks like a tool cupboard as opposed to a game of boot-sale rugby, and tomorrow I will start on mending the downstairs loo plus the salle sejour’s big occasional table. The main room’s occasional table is the Titanic of occasional tables, in that it is unfeasibly huge and listing very badly. It is a challenge.

The understairs thunderbox is also a challenge, but I flatly refuse to buy yet another (it would be the third) flushing mechanism: I am no longer in the business of spending vast sums to support Villeroy & Boch’s spare parts model. The first rule of DIY here is that, if at all possible, unnecessary monies will not be spent. The plunger design is absolutely daft, and so WonderSlog will design something better….less pretty perhaps; but far less likely to break. I’m not that keen  a survivalist, but a Northern postwar babyboomer is always going to hate waste.

More episodes will appear as and when France Telecom takes the problem seriously. Stay tuned. Do not hold breath. Do not get hopes up. Close the lid after use. Wash your hands. Keep Right. Drinkapintamilkaday.

95 thoughts on “ISP fascism, Telecoms incompetence, meteorites, and more mouseshit.

  1. Ah, yes French cistern flushing mechanism’s – archaic – a plastic rod, with a large rubber washer on the end, which nearly always starts leaking after a few months. For a country which is so ‘tech’ in many ways, why they can’t get their heads around syphon flush mechanism’s is beyond me!

    John, ref. your connection, you could try http://www.free.fr/ – they’ll supply a line to you as well as an internet connection.

    • Tut tut – wagafinger…..
      No,no, no, no….. that would take longer due to all the ‘checks’ and ‘double checking’ with all the Administative bureaus in the Department, and then confirmation to proceed from ‘Paris’, who only open 10 till 2 on wednesdays by appointment.
      I know, I married one of the twerps…. years ago.

  2. Ah the early frustrations! Hang out in a supermarket and keep your ears open for a British accent, then home in on them like a pigeon. If possible take them home and lock them in your cupboard till they tell you how to live the Good Life in France. Remember once you’ve broken two years as expat you won’t ever go back.

  3. A very good fix for mystery computer problems/issues is download ‘CC Cleaner’ and then re-start in Safe Mode (f8), run said cleaner, and then re-start the machine. Bingo. It even speeds-up machines suffering from the dreaded ‘Windows rot’. Works every time. Geek Wonks will tell you this does not work (err, read should not)… But it does! Sod ‘em. This has saved me countless times.

  4. ISPs seem to have a lot of control over peoples lives in some way….
    take 3 mobile for exalmple..the latest being blocking blog sites thay they deem..
    containing ‘mature content’..ie political stuff…so in the interests of freedomand democracy they decide ‘we’ are not allowed to read certain contraversial stuff..how kind of them..this isnt censorship this is being considerate to customers so they wont get upset reading stuff that might not agree with the establishment line..
    next they will be charging for this ‘service’…

  5. Much appreciation of your last sentence. Just remember
    the key to financial success is to be a tight arse. And forgive your enemy, just remember the bastard’s name.

  6. Having tried to be a survivalist for the last twenty years on a fixed income, eliminating superfluous needs, as far as possible becoming self-sufficient, one fights a losing battle against unavoidable soaring external costs such as property tax and health insurance which are triple the cost of actually putting the necessary food in one’s mouth to stay alive.

    As for getting things done in la belle France, the most useful tool has often been “piston” (knowing the right person), so perhaps John, in due course you need to become pally with monsieur le maire, or le député, or the butcher, baker and mod. equivalent of candlestick-maker….

  7. Apologies, off topic question if anyone can help me? I found a silver coin dealer in the channel Islands where no VAT is charged. Is this ligit or am I indirectly liable to pay the VAT? Any feedback appreciated as this seems to good to be true! Cheers

    • I believe VAT is due on import :(

      IIRC If you store it in their vault this doesn’t apply. But that’s not really the point.

      Go to a local coin dealer. You will have great fun rummaging round weird coins of the world, and they aren’t that overpriced.

      • Dan, I’m no expert but not ALL silver coins have the same silver content, but dealers charge like they do. The cut-off date is 1954, I think. Research will give you the date. Ergo, only buy silver coins before that date. However, the bullion itself is much worthier an invesstment. Only coin dealers buy coins. And remember, if you do not hold the SLV in your hand, you do not hold. PS. Silver is looking to move, handsomely,

    • If the island in question is within the EU, then whatever VAT you pay (or don’t pay) on purchase is the only one that applies. Nothing is added when going through customs. But please note that this applies only if you buy the stuff on site. If they ship it to you, then they are regarded as selling for export, and you must pay your local VAT.

      (There are ways around this, though, by having a third party ship it to you, someone who is independent from the coin vendor. That’s how libertysilver.ee works, for instance. They sell out of Estonia, where there is no VAT on silver.)

      • The above is exactly right, you don’t have to pay vat on what you own, just what you buy.. Understand exactly what you are doing, get proper paperwork and don’t get intimidated … when I come from Switzerland to the UK I sometimes bring a gold bar, always pr-owned, pre-declared with an Sklarung des Eignershaft and never have a problem.

        MFG, omb

      • I’m really not that keen on these new 24k Britannia’s I much prefer the original 22k model or the Krugerrand. 24k gold is too soft for a coin.
        The Royal Mints quality on this years silver Britannia coins would shame British Leyland. I’ve yet to see a new one that’s not been dinked or scuffed. Even Chards are now warning their customers about how poor the Royal Mints manufacturing quality is on these coins and pointing out they wont accept any sub standard returns because just like the Morris Marina they are all crap.
        The higher grade pure silver now being used on the 2013 coin is too soft for the Royal Mints antiquated manufacturing process. The result just about every coin is a dud. Perhaps instead of the Britannia design on the obverse side they should have struck the famous Leyland Roundel.
        A real pity.

    • GM – who I believe you’re referring to – don’t charge VAT on silver posted to a UK address.

      However, it IS chargeable here and customs may intercept and bill you!

      …….and then they might not.

  8. Meanwhile here in Britain, the Food Standards Agency defines its testing threshold for secret horse-meat in beef to be a level ‘greater than 1%’.
    Therefore, we now have a formal instruction to all rogue beef suppliers that, for every hundred tons of beef they use, they are now allowed to slip in a ton of Dobbin-meat.
    And if donkey-meat only costs 10% the trade-price of beef, that will drop almost 1% clear extra profit to their bottom-line. And all with Govt Agency approval. You couldn’t make it up.

  9. I Fixed my Villeroy + Boch unit using a cut down piece of plastic pipe, an old Pringles lid and some silicon….

    My repair didn’t meet SWMBOs aesthetic standards so I ended up buying a cheap B+Q “toilet to go”. It flushes much better, and uses far less water!

  10. But supposing that person then went on to say – wrestling you to the ground with a smile as he did so – “Don’t forget to stock up on steak, which is on offer this week at a staggering £3.50 per lb if you buy a whole cow!” and you then replied “But my freezer is tiny and I’m a vegetarian”, only to see the mad person walk away muttering “No reply no reply no reply no reply”.

    So what is the difference in attitude between these guys and … a bank … or a super-national authoritarian state like the EU (or even the US)?

    Oh, and if you are so bored, learn how to switch off the “automatic updates” thingummy on Windows. Maybe not, it’s not an interesting task.

    • Microsoft has lost it’s way.

      Windows 8 is going to be a disaster. Most of the profitable business was from the business sector, but the perpetual licence model (i.e. buy once use forever) means they have to continually ship new product. (I like John’s Shark Analogy). There was huge backlash with Vista from that community, Win 8 will be the same, as it brings no ROI to most businesses, why upgrade?

      Office 365’s attempt to move from perpetual to subscription has lots of headwinds. The simplest being IT departments aren’t going to vote for their server farms to be run in the cloud, knowing they will end up unemployed.

      Surface isn’t selling well (just look at how many adverts they are running)

      Bing is an unmitigated disaster on their balance sheet.

      You don’t need a crystal ball to know they will cock Skype up.

      The Nokia purchase isn’t bearing fruit (esp. as the Smartphone market gets saturated, and Google hit it aggressively with the Nexus 4).

      All the bright techies left as the culture there sucks.

      Hmmm now on the positive side um… Maybe Ballmer will get the push, and they will stop chasing consumers and concentrate on what makes them money…..

      Governments / Banks don’t have this problem, as their business model has been unchanged for 1000s of years, yet is still vastly profitable. (Just look how long an “Industrialist” family’s wealth spans vs a “Pollitical / Banking” dynasties)

      • When you say “Governments / Banks don’t have this problem, as their business model has been unchanged for 1000s of years, yet is still vastly profitable.” – you miss my point entirely. My point is that these guys can’t think. Sure they can put one block on top of another – they can’t think around a problem. That’s why you are getting such f*ck*ps. They keep doing what comes naturally – chasing the bottom line – go bankrupt and wonder why.

      • @GNR

        I believe they (the government and banks) can think.. Quite well in fact. The deception is for us to believe they can’t.

        If we believe they are foolish, we are far more apt to be fooled by them.

        Real companies formed by a nucleus of clever “inventors” or “technicians” with long term visions… Unbridled success gets the business blown out of all proportion leading to goal dilution and eventually they fail as they lose direction (especially when they float, and the whole short-termism kicks into overdrive).

        Governments and Banks just seem to forever get bigger an bigger as if TBTF was their goal from day one and they have stuck to that religiously to this day..

      • That is precisely my point. They can’t think: ergo they keep doing the same thing and expecting the same result. Just because the taxpayer has bailed them out doesn’t mean they got it right. Their mountains of debts go to show just how foolish they were.

        Like that business with SNS in Holland. They invested heavily in Spain reckoning on the returns being what they had been previously. Not one of them thought of the consequences of an over-heated market. They all used their highly developed intellects to reason “what worked last week will work next week”. The end result is that the taxpayer has to bail them out.

        In my book that is called foolishness. TBTF is an excuse, not their aim.

        As to “Real companies formed by a nucleus of clever “inventors” or “technicians” ” – a company I know of that was set up a few years ago has been dissolved. Nobody wanted to buy the product. A classic example of intellectual thinking “knowing it’s right” and not checking its facts. Why should you when all the logic points in one direction? The problem is that their “logic” was based on a false premise.

        So was that of the banks.

      • @GNR

        Budget deficits are the name of the game.

        Every penny in our system is loaned into existence… OK so maybe the whole “Fed/BOE is owned by Illuminati” is a step too far. But stop and ask yourself why do we have to have a convoluted money issuance program, where Gilts/T.Bills have to first be auctioned off to the banks (primary dealers) at discount, but then bought back in by central banks ?

        Given we operate in a fiat regime, money is little more than scores on a computer game, the bailouts are crock of …. Basically without it the whole house of cards would have fallen down when even fundamental accounting rules were broken, leaving everyone to see how we are being played for mugs. The government could have simply typed in the number for everyone’s account balance of a failed institution into a computer, and nationalised the whole mess. This probably would have been less than the numbers they typed into another computer program, auctioned off and agreed to pay interest on (again which they will type into a computer) and then transferred electronically into “bailing out” the banks.

        It is in the populations interest that the volume of theses credits are controlled by the people (or something far more immutable). So why not just have the government issue them directly? (Awaiting cries of Zimbabwe, but lets not forget the US operated successfully on this model prior to the fed)

        WRT to Companies going bust, of course they do. Often before they make any traction in the market. Sometimes because they don’t listen to customers (Microsoft), be that technical hubris, simple apathy, or greed. Sometimes because.new competitors enter the market. LOTS of times because the directors rip every penny they can out of the business in the good times and downturns leave them requiring usurious loans… (not necessarily from legitimate sources. I know people personally that have got in a whole worse mess through trying to prop up business cash flow through unsavoury characters, it’s not just in the Sopranos this goes on.)

      • S Mac

        “Gilts/T.Bills have to first be auctioned off to the banks (primary dealers) at discount, but then bought back in by central banks” – that’s because you can’t raise enough taxes to pay for your spending. Neither do you have a sensible economy where these things could be sold on the open market. Just think what would happen if all that stuff the BoE printed had to be borrowed on the open market?

        It’s not that they did it, it is the fact that it is a misuse of a system. To be honest, it has now been so abused that there is little hope for it to be rectified.

        Fiat regime or not, living within your means gives you freedom from usurious outsiders.

      • SMA

        there is nothing indeed that will stop “debt free money issuance” – only there is a sting in the tail. Sure, you can do it. Sure, it works. Only, what happens when it stops working? Usually in our modern world people just keep doing the same thing because it worked before. They will do it bigger and bigger to move less and less. Because they have the data that tells them it worked – the data that tells them it isn’t working is published the following year and is shoved under a carpet.

        In the mean time, people don’t have any jobs and the tax income stutters. So the fiscal planners pump in yet more.

        Would you trust your economy to people like that? I wouldn’t.

      • @GNR

        I don’t trust the people that issue the money at the moment, so it’s a moot point ;)

        I’ve spent the day pedalling a ridiculous bike with oversized tyres vertically 3000ft… Gives one time to reflect, whilst it I hate the inequity of the present system (and the easy opportunity for scoundrels to prevail over those with more benevolent motives) ultimately I am fairly fortunate.

        http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/article/the-fat-bike-trend-35505/

      • GNR,

        Those creatures are model examples of how to do things if you want to be successful financially (unfortunately we don’t live in a meritocracy). Microsoft IMHO did advance personal computing hugely. _LOTS_ of the good stuff about the internet is a direct result of the technical superiority of IE over Netscape in delivering active web content (XMLHTTPRequest / DHTML specifically).

        I’ve got a fixed gear bike I use to commute. Good for pedal form, simplicity personified when it comes to maintenance, and yes it does keep one fit :)

  11. We are all waiting with baited breath as you are the centre of the universe. If you wish for attention, address serious issues and live with the troubles of being.

    • Isn’t it “bated”?. And aren’t serious issues the everyday ones you can do something about, rather than the fantasy Mortal Kombat of armchair politics?

    • David, I agree wholeheartedly. Too much blah blah blah. I gave the Head Slog the hottest tip, ever: The Pope was forced to resign by the Galactic Federation, who really do represent God, and cannot tell a lie. Not a peep from the one with a mighty pen. Time to wake up, my friend, smell the Illuminati, and help hasten their removal from our wonderful planet, Gaia. Full Disclosure and First Contact will lead to everasting Peace and Abundance for All. Go get ‘em, Tiger!

  12. I’m using a Windows machine for the first time because the program I need for business isn’t available on my preferred Macintosh, or Linux.
    I’ve discovered to my amazement and horror that Microsoft has the bloody cheek to force stop whatever I’m doing and download updates that I didn’t ask for, without my permission.How dare they?
    It’s not as if Windows is better than the other two. It’s a horror; non-intuitive (In Windows 8 any utility at all useful is undiscovered until you accidentally whizz the cursor to top right of screen [ no clue there]), dumb (you have to tell Windows what Mac and Linux would automatically figure out by themselves) and plug ugly.
    Rant over. Back to my Mac for some smooth, silver surfing.

    • Can you not simply turn off automatic updates? I’m really not sure what the point is of Windows 8. Its like buying a new car and finding the brake and accelerator have been swapped around and everything else repositioned.

      • Dead right. Try free software called ‘classic shell’. It makes the virtually unusable W8 look like W7 (or XP or Vista) so you can actually use it. I still don’t know where the stuff along the bottom of the page went, though. Sometimes there, others not. Why do MS do this sort of thing? Do they really think we are all going to change to useless tablets without real keyboards? I have bad news for them it that’s what they think. Wallies!

    • You can set the Updates to let you decide which if any update you want to download and install.

      Just search for UPDATES on any windows 7/Vista and Windows 8 and change the settings. all quite easy.

  13. Hhmph! At least you didn’t have to suffer the static and complete bollocks on the Any Questions programme tonight on BBC Radio Marx.

  14. Off topic..
    but I recommend you all check out Zerohedge article
    ‘Guest Post: Five Tools To Protect Your Privacy Online’
    You don’t want Big Brother watching you ANYMORE

  15. After several years puzzling out how to deal with FT, I have found the solution – post them a letter. They always reply, in fact sometimes even call me to apologise (yes!). The fact that I have to write every month because of false charges on my mobile phone (all roaming, I travel a lot) is entirely beside the point…

  16. My, my John, you are the impatient sort. Here in North Queensland my telephone line was blown up by lightening. After 3 weeks they sent a techie out but he didn’t get within 1 km of finding the phone line, despite plans downloaded to his laptop, let alone doing anything to fix it. Three weeks later they sent 2 blokes and I took them by the hand and followed the dozer track marks from 25 years ago when the line was put in. I lent them my best machete and brush hook as they only had a truck full of electronic gear. I have an accommodation business. It is difficult if nobody can find you for 6 weeks.
    Relax, lay back, chill with good food and cheap wine.
    PS. Know how you feel about mouse crap. Heaps here. Also bat crap which is very similar but more crinkly. Wish they wouldn’t roost above my bed. Then there’s possum poo, mercifully very dry sweepable pellets, but the pee of the males pungent beyond belief.

  17. There is only one solution to the FT saga, you need to leave them! The same with EDF, Once you move on to other suppliers you find not only freedom from crap companies but more importantly very good service.
    As mentioned before ‘free’ are very competitive, especially their mobile phone deals. SFR have improved substantially and are okay for fixed line deals. Look here to compare

    http://www.degrouptest.com/

    Look here for comparisons on electricity suppliers

    http://www.kelwatt.fr/

    Also, consider moving banks, get an account with someone like Boursorama or ING (if you intend to live here for sometime). If you bank with CA or similar, you get what you deserve!
    Here’s a good site for banking and/or investing

    http://www.cbanque.com/#

    But most of all remember this is France and the French are the most selfish people on earth!

  18. Tom Pride comparing G. Osborne to that asteroid which got lots of column inches despite NOT hitting Earth…..

    `One is a cold, mindless object which spends all its time spinning aimlessly round and round in circles never getting anywhere but which nevertheless has the potential to cause massive destruction and the other is Asteroid 2012 DA14.`

  19. Just to spread a little cheer among all those Sloggers of a Superstitions Nature….. Beware, it’s in the stars…..doom is upon us all !

    We have a Comet coming our way called Pan-STARRS, which should be closest to Earth on March 5th (about 100 million miles away) and may well be visible to the naked eye between March 10th, when the it comes closest to the Sun and March 14th…..( followed up the next day by us all “Bewaring The Ides of March” on the 15th ! )

    And perfectly timed to warn us all about the next ( 14th/15th March ) Brussels European Summit.

    Anyone else think that ‘The Gods’ out there are trying to drop us a very heavy hint or two ? !

    • I think almost every expat has dreamed of being “Mayle II”. One thing to beware of in the Dordogne especialy, is the lower middle class Brit who on arrival becomes an upper middle class Brit with not even the bat of an eyelid. A sure sign is when chatting to other expats you don’t talk of “Peter Mayle” but rephrase him as “that Mayle chap”. Another is upgrading your education. If you’ve for example got your degree from North Staffs Poly (as I have) you upgrade the education establishment to “Staffordshire University”…..

      We were near to Menezes in Provence last autumn. We went on the hunt for Peter Mayle’s house, we found his valley in the Luberon, but were told he had moved 10km to the next valley. Apparently when he wrote YiP he had coachloads of Japanese tourists in his garden. I like his book but i wouldn’t go that far.

      Mind you those tools in his garden shed were rubbish.

  20. France Telecom have just sent me a bill for 4+ K euros, apparently I have been using a landline without paying for it since 2006, except my bank statements show I have……..this should be amusing!

  21. News reports when someone has been charged with an offence are a farce anyway, because you only hear the defendant’s side of the story.

  22. Mouse trap= 5 gallon bucket equalivant + peanut butter table spoon size in bottom of bucket + a couple small drops on board,, one edge lays on bucket rim and tape to rim.
    Allow board to lay on ground next to corner wall. Leave over night, morning you should have caught mice, repeatt
    Daily till 3 days go by and no mice.

  23. John, you’re really not quite into the French Customer Service mindset yet, may I suggest, coming from UK where customer is king.

    In France you have to remember shop assistants, telecoms engineers and the like are doing you a great favour when they serve you – and you need to grovel to show your appreciation for them doing what to you seems to be their job.

    You may think what you buy is keeping them in a job – but that is not their view. Many French think the state will protect them from job loss (and many are correct) so customers are a tolerated interruption to their daily routines.

    Still, enjoy – many people will envy you nonetheless.

    J

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