Storm about eleven days ago. Lightning strike knocked out computer. Started a process of elimination to work out which component had blown. No green light on big white plug storm protection thingie so took it to local computer shop boffin to see if he had a replacement. Sold me a tougher unit. Went back home and plugged it in. Livebox still wouldn't connect to internet. Took Livebox to boffin to see if it was working. No problem there. Told me to bring in the laptop. Took it in. Boffin discovered that the input connector at the back had been rendered useless. To replace it would take a couple of days and I'd lose all photos and documents and stuff currently in the computer. Told me I could save all these 'files' by downloading onto a little storage thingie that plugs in at the back. Bought one at the supermarket 'cos it was cheaper (still damned pricey though - 45 quid). Also told me I could get back online by using a six inch wire with a pluggy thing at either end which plugged in at the side of the laptop and by-passed the duff rear connection. Went back home and got set up. Discovered the 45 quid storage thingie didn't work. Had a closer look at the small print on the pack. 'Suitable for Windows 95 and 98.' Then realised the elderly laptop is 'Windows XT' and therefore, presumably, incompatible. Rats. Had a go with the new by-pass wire thingie. Didn't work either. Worked in the shop though. So the problem must therefore be outside the house. Went back to boffin and explained that nothing worked. Gave me the phone number of the Orange/French Telecom engineers. Went back home and rang. Recorded message in machine-gun speed French. Didn't understand a word. Went back to boffin. He very kindly rang and made an appointment for the engineers to visit. Stopped off at the supermarket to get some CDs for downloading files as suggested by Georgie back in the UK (both Georgie and Don had been brilliant in giving advice over the phone throughout this whole infuriating exercise - they're both computer literate while I'm a total Luddite, and a bad tempered one too). Eventually figured out how to copy onto CDs (at one stage, which lasted about a day until I figured out what the hell was going on, the idiot laptop had the audacity to announce 'there is no disc in the disc player' when there damned well was) and spent the next couple of days downloading. Then the engineer arrived. Tested the outside supply line and said it was fine. Then checked everything between the laptop and the telephone point on the wall. Reversed a couple of connectors at the end of the multi plug socket storm protection thingie and... success! Hence now back online, albeit with a temporary connector by-pass wotsit.
The process of getting back online had taken nine days. Nine days! And if that wasn't bad enough, every time I visited the boffin's shop I had to drive about ten miles, then park (usually took ages due to getting stuck in a long line of traffic crawling along behind a horse-drawn carriage that circulates Aubusson's narrow streets showing tourists the sights), then queue in his shop (waiting time about twenty minutes), then wait again after he'd plugged in whatever item I'd taken along for inspection and then moved on to serve somebody else (he works alone) - shop time frequently took about two or three hours, or four or five if you included driving. So five visits amounted to roughly 30 hours if you include associated visits to caff for strong coffees and fags to recover from shop visit ordeals. Nightmare. What's more, just before going offline I'd started briefing one of my old work colleagues about knocking up some logo designs on his Apple Mac for a client back in London. So when I went offline I had to continue briefing and modifying by phone without seeing imagery. Which, of course, is impossible. Double nightmare.
Then..., as if all that wasn't bad enough, on one of these trips to Aubusson I decided to check out my elderly VW camper which had spent winter slumbering in a rented garage. Bought a new battery, started her up, moved her out of the garage, parked the smelly Citroen dogwagon in its place and drove home. Drove her to Aubusson the following day with one of the afforementioned malfunctioning computery bits. Got as far as the outskirts of Felletin where I was waved down by a couple of gendarmes. Had to produce documents. Insurance papers unfortunately back at home. Insurance sticker on VW front window out of date (I'd forgotten to swap it for the new one which was with the insurance papers). CT sticker out of date also (French MoT certificate) but hadn't noticed. Told 'em it can't be out of date 'cos it passed its CT with flying colours just over a year ago (CTs, or MoTs, last two years in France, not one as in the UK). Gendarme checked the Carte Gris (logbook). Said something about the camper being a 'fourgon'. So, while a full CT test was required every two years, it required an annual CT test for 'pollution' (exhaust emission test). So I was driving illegally. Result: a 90 euro fine. Luckily I didn't get done for not showing my insurance papers - I guess they checked by phone (and maybe computer) that I was listed as being insured. Gave me a week to get the camper tested. Booked a test and, luckily, it passed. Phew. Visited copshop to show them the CT 'pass' papers and reclaim my arrested Carte Gris which had spent a few days in jail. "Ah, l'anglais!" "Non, ecossais!" Am now well known to the local constabulary.
Ah well, been an interesting week. Or two.
4 weeks ago