The flip side of civilisation
I love being in France — love the self-confidence of the culture, the courtesy in village shops, the pace of life in Provence, the cafes, the sunshine, its Roman architectural heritage, the way its towns and villages are civilised by Plane trees, even the newspapers. A few days ago, the great French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, died. The next day Liberation not only devoted several pages to his life and work, but also put one of his more famous photographs on almost every page, culminating with a wonderful erotic nude on the back cover.
Most of all, it’s lovely to escape from the Anglo-American world for a period. But there are downsides. For example, until yesterday I had terrific GPRS service on my mobile phone, provided by Orange France via a roaming agreement with my network, T-mobile. But sometime yesterday afternoon, my connection disappeared — just vanished. So I borrowed a phone this morning and phoned customer service back in the UK. “I’m afraid there is an issue with mobile coverage in France at the moment”, said the girl. “We don’t yet have a time for resolution”. Which being translated means: there’s something wrong with our roaming arrangements with Orange France. And since it’s le weekend, nothing much is likely to happen until Monday. C’est la vie, as they say.
Correction! My connection was restored sometime very early on Sunday morning. So much for cultural stereotypes.