|Like my titties? Might as well flaunt them.|
(I have set it to do this on the off-chance that it should ring some time when I happen to have it about my person at an elegant cocktail party, for its default ring-tone is a recording of the foghorn of the Titanic, which then segues into Ride of the Valkyries: hardly discreet, and certainly not elegant. Although it is true that cocktail parties, elegant or otherwise, are rare things in the arid tundra, but one never knows.)
For, with all of five days to go (two of those being, technically, a weekend) before a big trade show somewhere in California, someone had the bright idea that the gear should be able to perform a pressure optimisation - apparently this involves nothing more complicated than setting up a data entry screen and plugging a few formulae into the arse end.
Of course, the formulae were supplied as a spreadsheet, and it rapidly became evident to even my inexperienced eye that cell D34 depended on cell D35, which itself depended on cell D34: back in the day Excel would just have told you to go stick your head someplace where it is always dark, but nowadays it does successive approximations and other complicated stuff, and eventually comes up with an answer which is close enough to what you want.
I recall doing this sort of thing a long time ago, and I also recall the importance of starting off with an initial value which is close enough so that your iterative process a) terminates in a reasonable time and b) does not oscillate between "37" and "a ham sandwich", neither of which are good answers. (Not entirely true. They are both in fact perfectly good answers, but not to this particular question.)
Back in the day, when the late, corrupt, morally ambiguous and unlamented Mitterand was president, he installed a relative non-entity, one Jack Lang, as ministre de la culture. Crueler tongues than mine have said that this was just for ease of access to the Elysée, what with him being the president's wife's lover and all: I have no knowledge of this and would not, in any case, wish to spread foul rumours.
You can probably guess just what that involves: it's organised at the cave cooperative and involves apparently never-ending supplies of wine, copious quantities of food and - towards the end of the evening - the ritual and sadly inevitable disco. Never mind, by the time they get around to that we'll probably be rolling our bloated way homewards.
Then I got dragged along one evening to a show of which the entire second half was dedicated to Georges Brassens, and it was a revelation. It is true that ten years earlier I would not have appreciated it because I would not have understood it, but now that I have managed to wrap my ears around the particularly French habit of the contrepeterie (which is a close relation to the spoonerism, but which must be obscene) and got to grips with the subtle, self-effacing and rather subversive black humour of which they are, in fact, capable, I find it absolutely delicious.
So it was with great pleasure that I discovered, scanning the list of events lined up for this summer in Moux, that the concert for la nuit de la poésie is scheduled to be a homage to Brassens. I may take a packet or two of peanuts - not to eat, for I detest the damn things, but to throw at the stage should the performance not be up to scratch - but I am hoping for a very enjoyable evening on July 25th.
So this time round, the price of admission was a poetry reading. It is true that I hold that those who read poetry in public may have other nasty habits, but it was mercifully brief and there was enough food and drink for a small army, which is always a consolation.
And we sat up there in the sun with the smell of thyme and rosemary in the still hot air, and watched the thunderheads roll in from the east and sweep past to the south, to go play on the Pyrenées.
It is at such times as those that it's brought home that we are no longer in Kansas.
Mind how you go, now.