Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dock Green, Revisited ...

Well, mind how you go now sir. No sir, that was definitely not police brutality. Your son was, sir, wearing bum-crack trousers and a hoodie - we have at least 73 little old ladies, one of whom courageously nearly broke her lead-weighted cane as she brought it whistling down across his knees to prevent him committing any further crimes - to testify to that, and that is aggression in anyone's book, sir.

Quite frankly sir, he's lucky to have escaped as lightly as he has, and it is a wonder to me that with two broken patellas he was able to put up sufficient resistance to justify Sgt Amayonadha's (sorry sir, that was her name, not a sneeze, we're multi-culturally violent and hardly sexist at all here you know, and proud of it) having to break his arm for resisting arrest and sartorial laxity, but there you go sir, one never knows and with luck the judge will be lenient with him, it being a first offense as far as we know and all.

Although I'm sure we could find prior form, if you'd prefer that? Just asking, some do, sir. Children are not everyone's cuppa, in my experience.

And by the way sir, when you do get to see him, if it's not too late, do tell him not to bend over should he drop the soap in the showers, there are some people sir, as might take that as an invitation. If you know what I mean, sir. And sir, if you could persuade your wife to stop snivelling, before I feel obliged to backhand her for notorious loitering? Thank you sir, much obliged to you. Now where was it exactly that you lived, sir? Just asking squire, wouldn't want to see you in any trouble now, would we? Just watch it, OK? God, I hate accountants.

Fortunately, TV has evolved since the 80s. Instead of watching bumbling coppers we now have the dubious pleasure of watching "The Transporter", loosely based on the pointless movies of the same name. Mindless violence, gratuitous shots of someone's foot toying with the clutch pedal (and why does he even bother, the car can do it better and faster than he can), and no pretense of character development. At least you get what it says on the tin.

OK, so I mentioned Angela del Moro, courtesan, once, some time ago, trying to bring a bit of kulcha to this thing, and what do I get for thanks? About everyone on the planet who can't afford to buy a copy of Penthouse (for the articles, you understand) looking for pictures of some sixteenth century bint in the nude (probably far too fat for current tastes, incidentally) and passing it off as historical research, should their mothers ask what they're doing down in the basement. What with that, and "obsessed vibrators", it's enough to make one wonder.

And one other thing, whilst I think of it (before it leaves my mind, more to the point, being as I've just got off the phone with the buggers): can I say that I really, really hate finding myself in the position of knowing more than the "tech support" person at the other end of the line?

OK, I do not expect them to be geniuses, but I would like to think that they had access to a large online database and some basic knowledge of the products they're supposedly supporting. Our case: we, for our sins, have a France Telecom Livebox as our link to the world: it is, not unsurprisingly, plugged into the phone line and the phone, in its turn, is plugged into the box. Like that, the box routes incoming voice calls on the 04 number of the fixed line to the phone, and also gives us a VOIP line with a 09 number.

So a week or so ago, we sort of noticed (no debt collectors calling up, you get to miss that) that incoming calls to the 04 number weren't getting through: when you called, you heard the ring tone, but on our phone - total silence. So finally, I rang France Telecom, and it was already a minor victory when, at 7pm, someone I suspect of probably being a certifiable human being actually answered.

At which point, very gratefully, I explained my problem. So he told me that it was completely normal, I needed two phones, one plugged into the phone line for the 04 number and the other into the box, for the 09 number. I patiently explained that this was not in fact the case. "But Sir", said he, "you have two phone numbers, of course you must have two phones."

"Sadly, no", I replied, very patiently, "I have but one, being a simple soul, and poor, and it is plugged into the Livebox as god intended. From which it gets two numbers." "Alas", quoth he, "it is not normal. Two numbers, two phones."

"I AM ONLY DOING WHAT IT SAYS ON THE FRIKKIN BOX!" I said, calmly. The meds were definitely cutting in by now. "Also, it has been working quite happily like that for some time now, and the only reason I am calling you is that it is no longer doing so. Do you have a problem with that?"

Well yes, he did, because apparently it should not have worked, according to him. So I had fiddled with it, or changed my contract, or something. Had my box been replaced recently? ("Yes. Three times.", I assured him.)

And I should still have had two phones, because otherwise it was magical. I guess. Finally we settled on rebooting the box - again - and lo!, it worked. What a bummer. I would have preferred not to have given him the satisfaction.

The next day I got an e-mail from France Telecom, asking me for my feedback on the quality of their service, and exactly how would I rate it on a scale of 0-9 for politeness, efficiency, and technical aptitude. I am still unsure as to exactly how I should reply.

For starters, the simple numerical scale seems rather unimaginative. Having it go from "runny gnat's fart" through "duck with gastroenteritis" all the way to a full-blown "enraged sperm whale with diarrhoea" would, I feel, fit better with the actual user experience.

And another thing, miraculous multiplication. Not that we have very many pieces of the True Cross around this place (the theory being that this simple postulate would explain the fact that the sum total of bits of crucifixes - crucifii? -  added up to about 923 ha of oak forest, or 5037 adult male African elephants, which was not really believable even back in the Middle Ages) but we do have Tupperware.

So if you're like us, you may have noticed that whatever you do, even if you stick those plastic tubs in a cupboard and never, ever, touch them, when the time comes to get one out and actually use it there is no lid. Well, more to the point, after counting them I can say that there are, in fact, 52 plastic Tupperware lids in our pantry. There are about 57 plastic Tupperware tubs (I'm not sure of the exact number, got bored and besides they were moving around too rapidly).

Now two of the lids seem to match a tub, more or less - the odd thing is, it's never the same tub, twice in a row. Something is going on here, doubtless quantum, but it's kind of getting up my nose. All I want to do is stick some leftover tinned mushrooms in the bloody thing, for god's sake. Is that too much to ask?

In other news, we are to be reunited with our first-born son. His time in Nîmes did not go swimmingly - having his PC, then his passport and phone charger, nicked did not help - and feeling that he was learning nothing on the job (which has ended anyway) and not being able to find another one, it seems best that he comes back. Bit of a bugger really, we were quite enjoying being childless, I shall have to dress to go down and get the coffee now.

Must admit also that we're not too impressed with the organisational abilities of les compagnons du devoir: a phrase involving the words "piss-up" and "brewery" does rather come to mind.

What the hell, chalk it up to experience.

Anyway, those potatoes baking in the oven are not going to stuff themselves with some chopped smoked salmon and cream and herbs, maybe an egg, and some cheese and paprika on top, so I guess I'd better get on to that at this point. Mind how you go. Remember, we know where you live now.


  1. the quality of their service, and exactly how would I rate it on a scale of 0-9 for politeness, efficiency, and technical aptitude. I am still unsure as to exactly how I should reply.

    Do they accept negative numbers? Irrational numbers? Imaginary ones?

    Commenter Narad sent us this link:

    I pass it on for your appreciation as well.

  2. Have you been smoking something, oh older of my brothers. Only, when I read the first bit, I got all worried in case Jerry had done something Rather Wrong. (Your daughter did too, so it wasn't just me!)

  3. Yeah, Mal mentioned that when she skyped the other night. Sorry about that, 'twas but a flight of fancy ...