Sunday, January 14, 2007

Empty space

Next summer, if you'd like to camp or set up your caravan in a delightful setting just opposite the village of Choranche, look for this house:

The words Camping chez la Mère Michon (nickname of the female proprietor) are quite big. You can't miss them.

The reason I mention this camping spot is that the owner and her family are friends of mine, and I told Michelle that I might be able to help her, a few years ago, by setting up a small website concerning her camping park. In fact, her camping venture evolved rapidly, since many passing drivers were attracted to her park by the huge Mère Michon sign. Finally, my website didn't play a significant role in the affair. In the camping domain, not even a planetary computer network can compete with the expression Camping chez la Mère Michon painted in huge letters on the front of your house. Besides, Michelle never had a computer, so I couldn't put an e-mail address in the website. Consequently, my website was soon forgotten, and it rotted away like an old tent or caravan left standing out in the wind and rain and sun and snow. Another trivial detail. Certain observers who think they're clever and funny (like me, for example) would contend that some of the success of Michelle's sign is that many motorists imagine for a split second that they've seen the expression Mère Nichon, which might be translated roughly as Mother Boobs, and they wonder whether they've come upon a nude camping park.

Now, why am I rambling on about all this? Well, it so happens that websites I've built for friends are often a flop, for one reason or another. And, in such cases, I end up inheriting their empty space (obtained free of charge from the French Internet company named Free). Michelle's camping park is located in the neighboring commune of Châtelus, and the abandoned website was named I couldn't think of anything serious to do with the empty webspace, since the commune is a rather small and dull place. So, I decided to build a small website (in French) about a charming but totally fictitious Provençal village called Châtelus. And that's what you can see there today if you click the above address.

Another webspace that I inherited through disuse is the one in which this blog is housed. If you want to see the perfectly normal public website for which this space was initially acquired, simply reduce the address to Here's how this primordial website came into being, in a local café a few years ago:

David: William, I've often thought that a website might help me to get jobs.

William: What kind of jobs?

David: Well, theoretically, anything at all, provided that it's well-paid. I'd be prepared to travel abroad to perform tasks of one kind or another, in situations where my employer wouldn't have the time or capacity to carry out those tasks for himself.

William: So, you see yourself as a man who would get paid to perform missions of an unspecified nature...

David: Well, my employer would finally have to specify exactly what he wants me to do. And how much he's prepared to pay me, along with expenses. And my job would consist of doing it, in a way that satisfies my employer.

William: It all sounds a bit vague, a bit mysterious. People might think you're talking in terms of jobs of a more or less illicit nature...

David: No, I've got to leave things vague, because a typical mission might be anything at all, such as renting a holiday home for my employer and his family on a Greek island, or purchasing some special kind of product that can only be found in Africa, or maybe picking up business documents in South America...

William: OK, I'll build you a vague little website. And it's up to you to decide how to use it effectively.

Retrospectively, I think our conversation was pub talk, because I'm not sure that David ever used his tiny self-promotional website in any way whatsoever. I don't even know whether he noted down the address of it. In any case, he never picked up e-mail sent to the site (most of which was spam, I believe). So, I decided to borrow his webspace for my blog. And that's why readers who don't know this simple story might imagine today, when they see my blog address, that I think of myself as a man of mysterious missions or, worse still, that I've settled here in order to carry out missionary work aimed at christianizing the wild Alpine Yeti in the vicinity of Choranche and Châtelus. Not at all! On the other hand, I do tend to think of this blog, from a communications viewpoint, as a kind of mission of an unspecified nature...

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