So there I was, comfortably installed under a parasol at l'Arbre à Bières (maybe I should just call it the Beer Tree from now on, would save everyone problems) and Foul Ole Ron had wandered in with his rather glitzy purpleish shirt (must have been the height of fashion, about 30 years ago) and installed himself at the bar hoping for a free glass of the stuff they use to scrub the floors, and who should come up the street but my old friends Larry and Mark?
And they were both incredibly pissed. Not as in drunk, but annoyed. Now Mark has a few issues, I can understand that: the sex with the secretary was entirely 100% consensual and there was absolutely no need whatsoever for the entire board to jump on him as they did. And for heaven's sake, anyone can improperly misrepresent expenses, it happens all the time.
And I can totally understand how Larry, seeing as they'd played tennis together for years, took this as a personal slight and consequently offered him the job at Oracle, hoping it would smooth things over. Sadly, turned out not to be the case, thanks to those bastards at HP, especially "Swivel-Eyed Leo" Apotheker.
Whatever, Larry was not having a good day. I mean, not often that he confides in people, what with him having a yacht and everything, but it was pretty clear that he was distressed. Not only did the other Larry get off scot-free with Android and all that patent infringement stuff in which he believed so dearly, but now HP have managed to condemn him to supporting the bloody Itanium platform for as long as Intel choose to keep making the frikkin' things.
The pair of them were rather sad and extremely angry and I can really get that: I mean, how would you feel if you were found guilty of "promissory estoppel"? Makes it sound as if your sex life were totally inadequate which is, if you can believe the rumours about Larry, completely unfair.
Still, one bright spot in the whole sorry business - he gets a bit of small change out of SAP. Not that $600 million is much more than pocket money these days, but it should pay to get the boat repainted or keelhauled or whatever.
On a different note, for those of you who have an interest in such things, it seems that Malyon will be turning up on the 13th for a couple of weeks with her little brother and her aged parents. Well, one aging parent anyway, as Margo is, quite coincidentally, heading off to a show in Birmingham on that very day, and spending a week there. I guess it won't worry Mal too much: she's probably planning on heading off to Grenoble and other points south anyway, things to do and friends to catch up with.
So Saturday started off well enough: Margo dropped me off at the market early and I whipped round in record time, a smile on my lips and a song in my heart because I managed to find some pepperoncini and discovered another stall selling sweetcorn. These simple delights really do cheer me up. I can only assume that my being happy annoys someone, because it was when I came to phone Margo to let her know I'd finished that I discovered that my phone was blocked, with a courteous text from Bouygues to tell me that I was on restricted roaming, restricted calls, restricted this that and whatever, and was basically screwed.
What the hell, the shopping basket only weighed about about 15 kilos and there's a Bouygues shop not too far away and it wasn't yet over 30°, so off I trotted to find out what the hell was going on. And cooled my heels for ten minutes whilst the guy behind the counter (why was there only one guy? Has Chambéry closed down for the summer?) sucked his teeth as he held an apparently dead phone to his ear, waiting for signs of life at the other end of the line.
Finally he gave up on that as being a bad job, reluctantly noticed me and - I guess it's part of his job - asked dubiously if there was any way he could be of help. The way he said it should have been a dead giveaway but I'm always optimistic, said that I hoped so, and explained the situation. Sorry squire, said he, you've gone way over your contract so your line has automatically been blocked. Only way to do anything is to call customer service - from a fixed line, obviously - and work it out with them. Fine.
Later that same day, in front of the PC, bring up their website to find the contact number. Somewhere down in the fine print - because they're obliged to mention it, but really really do not want actual people calling them because that wastes their time - I find a mention of 1054. Which, like an idiot, I dial. On hold for a while, and then I am asked to type in my mobile number: fair enough, but at the end their damn automated voicemail tells me that it can't recognise the number, and would I please try again. And after three failed attempts, it tells me to call 618.
Which I duly do, and after waiting some more I am informed that this number is for use from mobiles only, and would I care to call 1058, which is the number for professionals. At this point in time, I am starting to get seriously annoyed. Anyway, I dial 1058 and by some miracle on the second attempt it recognises my phone number! Only to go on and ask me for my secret code. I have absolutely no idea what my secret code might be, so I just hung on and waited: the system then tells me that it couldn't understand and in any case human beings are only available between the hours of 8am and 7pm on a Saturday and guess what, it's 19:13 so you're stiff out of luck. Try again Monday.
I mean, couldn't they just outsource the whole damn thing to India or somewhere that they can find semi-competent people available for a pittance 24/24, 7/7?
Still, nil desperandum and all that, so I thought I'd try the actual website. I know I once logged on because I ordered a new phone online some time ago: of course I've forgotten the password and the Palm V has finally died and the PC on which all that sort of thing is synched is currently up at the office, but what the hell, I can always click on the little button that says "I am a moron and have forgotten my password". So I did that, checked the little option to have my reset password sent to me by e-mail, and waited. Ten minutes later, still waiting ... I repeat the procedure. Another ten minutes, finally I give in and tell the bloody system to send me the password by SMS (brilliant idea if you've lost or broken your phone, which is why they have the apparently non-working option to notify you by mail, does no-one actually bother to do a bit of testing on websites these days?) ... and thirty seconds later I get a text, and thirty seconds after that an e-mail arrives, to tell me that I have received an SMS. Go figure.
Still, I'm duly grateful for small mercies, I have my password, time to log on. I wish to look at the last bill and, if necessary, pay it straight away and maybe change my contract: I am about to be disappointed once again. "This part of our site is momentarily unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience. Go screw yourself."
Which is what I more or less decided to do: under the circumstances it seemed the least miserable of the available options.
Apart from that, things could be worse. Met up with Mad Karen on Thursday, as she had to leave Mumblefuck to come sign the papers for the sale of her apartment. Which means that now she and Philippe can buy that enormous plot of land they've had their eyes on and build a new house on it, preferably one without rising damp designed into it.
But right at this moment they're off to the States for a while: a week or so in LA, blissfully free of family and then, suitably restored, New York to catch up with Sylvia and Liz.
Now as Liz is still, apparently, insisting that all incoming letters and such be sterilised before being brought into the apartment, and Sylvia must wear full hazmat gear and scrub with acid before seeing the baby, this should be fun, in a twisted way.
Also, Beckham seems to have forgiven me, sort of. (Yeah, I know. As Bryan said to me the other day, "Never, ever, not even in jest, ask a woman what she's been eating. She knows what she's been eating, and she knows intimately every gram that she's put on, and where. Do not go there." I wish he'd said that before I opened my mouth.) But anyway, I headed down to the Beer Tree Thursday night to get a quick bite before going back up to the office to get some work done (the Americans - and the Swiss - are fair wetting themselves at the possibilities of this little embedded Linux system, worse than kids with a new puppy) and who should be propping up a table but Bryan, Beckham and the Lillois.
Don't know how the conversation turned to it, but as part of her ongoing mission to discover everything possible about Bryan's hidden past, including his hair colour (currently white) she let it drop that the world's biggest sperm bank was refusing donations from redheads, due to insufficient demand. Normally, this sort of fact only comes out when the tone has sufficiently degenerated, which is my job, so I guess my apologies have been tacitly accepted.