Saturday, September 3, 2011

When the Intertubes Goes Titsup ...

As it would happen, on Sunday night I had an e-mail to send off and because shit happens, Sunday night was the night that the Freebox at Pessielère suddenly realised that it was stuck out in the wops far from civilisation, and decided to sulk. So, no internet. And it didn't get better.

What exactly does one do when one can't get on the tubes? None of the kids seemed to know, which was alarming because I usually rely on them for technical advice of this sort.

Fat Lady with Umbrella
And of course I no longer have an analogue modem and even if I had it would've done me precious little good as there's no POTS at Pesselière: the line is ADSL only and the phone is VoIP.

I was girding my loins for another trip to Auxerre in the hope of finding an internet café, or even just a bar with Wifi, when suddenly the idea came to me that perhaps, just possibly, I could use my phone. Of course I had the little USB cable for the thing (easier than carrying around yet another bloody charger) and I had a vague memory that on plugging it in it asked me whether I wanted it to be, amongst other things, a modem, so I thought there was no harm to trying.

So I plugged the thing in and selected "Modem", and for once kudos to Samsung for they had set things up so that all the required device drivers and the modem connection manager were in the phone memory, all ready to be installed! Even 64-bit versions! For once, thought I, things are going right.

Of course that was hopelessly optimistic, as the 64-bit drivers stubbornly refused to install under Windows 7. Nil desperandum, as they say: Jeremy has the clunky old laptop he inherited from Jacques, running XP ... oh miracle! everything installs. Not only does it install, but when I run the connection manager it sees a GPRS modem, and when I select that up comes a screen with arcane fields like "APN name" and "Service N°" and stuff like that already filled in, and when I click on OK I am suddenly online!

Luckily - for normally my PC remembers things like that for me - I could still remember my gmail account name and password, and so after a few quick swaps with a USB key to get the files I needed (for the Freebox was sulking so hard it didn't even want to be a router) the deed was done and my mail sent off. At the blistering speed of 270KBps admittedly, but that's still better than the alternative.

Moral of the story, I suppose: always have an out-dated computer to hand, you never know when you might need it.

Just to celebrate I did a couple of barbecued legs of lamb for dinner that night. Butterflied them, as I like to do because they cook so much more evenly like that, then rubbed the flesh with that Thai chili sauce I mentioned earlier and left them to sit like that for a bit. About two hours before dinner, into the oven with the potatoes to roast (don't look at me like that. I know that oven, and it is definitely not the hottest thing on the block) and then onto the barbecue which Ian had started, with the blowtorch as usual, a bit earlier.

Come 20:30, perfect lamb, pink and smoky, with crispy roast potatoes and coleslaw. And chili sauce. Bliss on a plate. With blackberry crumble to follow - I can die happy.

And that was about it, really. Wednesday morning we loaded up the car with world + dog (and another 8kg of blackberries, now languishing in the freezer) and hit the road, more or less as planned, around 10:30 - five hours later, back home to a rapturous cat who was willing to swear that Emily, the neighbour, Hadn't Fed Her. At all.

Ever had one of those days when you can't quite seem to remember things? I mean, about two weeks ago I felt this sudden urge to use the name of that guy who comes in at the end of "Hamlet" and takes over (after a really nice speech saying about how sorry about it all he is) and I woke up at some ungodly hour Saturday morning (OK, my phone went "bing!" as well, which didn't help) crying "Of course! It was Fortinbras!". Which, although true, is pretty pointless.

Anyway, we drank with Beckham today and for some reason the conversation turned to the sexual pecadillos of the Massey Uni English department and thence, naturally enough, to the episode where (redacted) cast his wife as Rosalind and the uproar that ensued when his fellow lecturer (also redacted) (who, incidentally, cordially detested Shakespeare) suggested in his review that she was perhaps mutton dressed as lamb ... but I digress. So what was the play? I could remember the Forest of Arden, and Margo contributed Phebe, but where does that leave us?

On top of that, the Wifi in the bar didn't work, so we couldn't even google it. It turned out to be over half an hour before Beckham spewed beer out her nostrils (as one will, in those eureka! moments) and cried "As You Like It", which turns out in fact to be the correct answer.

Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest ...
Whatever, having been home for three days and, apparently, slept for about the same length of time (waking only for dinner, which is incidentally complicated by the fact that Tony is, through no innate vice or fault of his own, vegetarian, and nicotine fixes) Mal and Tony decided to head down to Grenoble for a barbecue (no doubt to be complicated by the fact that it's now pissing down with rain).

And Jeremy has to head off to Chambéry for the pot de depart for one of his mates, who's heading back to Brazil. All of which means that for the first time in ten days there'll be just the two of us again (not counting the dog, nor the cat), so we can have a civilized dinner and watch Torchwood, as god intended. This unnatural calm will last until tomorrow, when they all return to the fold, with apparently a Grenoblois contingent hungry for grilled food.

We'll see how that goes: as I said, it seems to have decided to start raining and with our luck, it'll carry on doing so. (Did I mention that it was when we actually left Pesselière that the weather finally cleared up and we got an unambiguously fine day? Thought not. Believe me, you lot have nothing to complain about.)

Oh yeah, they've started the vendange already, two or three weeks early. Can't say I'm surprised, given how ripe the grapes were. But it does mean extra aggravation on the departmentales rather before I was expecting it: must remember not to take the back roads for the next couple of weeks. But on the bright side, now that the holidays are more or less over, at least the autoroute has gone back to normal. And the bloody Dutch have disappeared.

But I suppose, loath though I am to leave the comfy chair, that I'd better go play taxi now and drop Jeremy off to this little fete. Catch you later.

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