NO CONSPIRACY THEORIES PLEASE, IT’S MERELY FRANCE TELECOM AGAIN

If you spotted that the Saturday Essay was meant to spread over Saturday, Sunday and Monday (but didn’t actually appear until Sunday morning) you may be wondering WTF is going on. Others on the blogosphere are of course already convinced I’ve been abducted by MI6 aliens and am even now writing this under duress. The truth, however, is far simpler – and rather more entertaining.

Do you remember when watches worked via a set of springs and wheels rather than a chip made in Danjong? And do you remember that some strange people were able to make the older watches stop simply by wearing them? Well I think I might have the same effect on French utilities. As I’ve written many times before, I’ve been coming back to the French Slogger’s Roost after gaps of a few months for fifteen years now (this is the longest I’ve ever owned a property) and on each occasion there is always at least one disaster. One year, a wild animal had made its way into a wall space, and then promptly expired – I assume, from the futile effort involved. For two months we lived with the smell of decaying flesh. On other occasions there have been decomposing rats in the loo, hornets’ nests in the roof void, frozen pipes in the hallway, an inch of batshit in the garage, two inches of mouseshit in the understairs cupboard, and sooty magpies careening around in the chimney. This year, only one naturally-occurring Act of God awaited me: a direct lightning hit on both fridges had rendered them useless.

Those of you not dozing off in the aftermath of Sunday Lunch will have seen a trend in all that: nature’s slings and arrows occur when I’m not here. Utility screw-ups, however wait until I’m back. I returned three days ago, and in that time I have lost an entire electrical mains ring, my phone line, the internet, and a mobile signal.

So in summary, I can’t chill beer or preserve food, I can’t contact the insurance company – in fact, I can’t communicate with the outside world in writing, orally or visually – and lighting the main room involves so many wires, it’s like walking across a film set. But up until Friday, I could lift things and sit in a chair to type. Then I lifted something heavy, and now I can’t do either of those things.

At this point, most of humanity would quietly skulk away to a bed somewhere, pull the duvet up over themselves, and wait for it all to go away – but I’m made of different stuff. What I do is go out into the garden and scream loudly, chuck hammers about, and shake my fist at the sadists running the Universe. Only then do I skulk away to bed, pull the duvet over myself, and vow revenge.

I was on my way to the stairs with this in mind when I opened the back door and switched on the outside light – the better to find various hammers. The bulb went “pop!” and was no more. There are days like these, and the best thing to do is wait until it’s tomorrow.