August is an unusual month in France, because one has the impression that half the nation is on vacation. Paris, in particular, closes down to a large extent, or at least quietens down considerably (from a traffic viewpoint), and certain residents prefer to remain there in August to appreciate calmly various aspects of the capital. The rue Rambuteau, where we lived for ages, used to take on a village atmosphere in August. You could sit down at a sidewalk table at the corner café, without being swarmed by pedestrians, and read the newspaper. Obviously, what I've just said does not apply to touristic quarters of Paris such as the Champs-Elysées, the Eiffel Tower and the Latin Quarter.
So, you might say that my Internet connection chose the ideal time to break down... when most people are outside in the sunny weather, rather than seated in front of their computer screens. Incidentally, in McDonald places, I've got accustomed to choosing a table in a corner where the sunlight doesn't affect the readability of the MacBook screen. I've also realized that, to avoid dirtying my nice little machine, it's preferable to stick to stuff such as ice cream and Coke, rather than McDonald's greasy products. For health reasons, too, this was no doubt a wise decision.
It's not impossible that many of the technical employees at Free (my Internet service provider) were on vacation at the moment that my connection went down. In any case, over the last three weeks, no Free technician ever phoned me up (on my iPhone), let alone came here to see what might be broken. Fortunately, yesterday, Free accepted immediately my request to end my contract. In my letter, I didn't even have to get around to using nasty words to describe their faulty service. So, in a few days, I'll have a new telephone and Internet service, provided by the state-operated Orange company, along with a new email address (which I do not know yet). I'll even have a new phone number:
04 76 64 18 32 (inside France) or
33 4 76 64 18 32 (from another country)
As before, I'll be able to phone free to most countries in the world (including, of course, Australia).
Here's a photo of my recently-acquired set of McDonald Coke glasses, to which I'm still adding new specimens:
This precious collection will be a personal souvenir of the events of August 2009. Meanwhile, I'll wait until my new Internet connection is operational before describing in detail the genealogical jackpot that hit me, when I was least expecting it, on the eve of my Internet collapse. In a nutshell, I've just discovered precisely that my 27-times-great-grandfather from France, named William, invaded England in 1066... exactly nine centuries before the birth of my French daughter. The connection (I'm talking of genealogy, not the Internet) has nothing to do with ancestors named Skyvington, but exists through my paternal grandmother, Kathleen Pickering, who grew up on a bush property in Australia. Her brother was a World War I hero who, through his sporting and military prowess, was nicknamed King. My father, born at the time "King" Pickering returned from the Western Front, then received his heroic uncle's nickname (to my mind, a silly choice) as his own official given name. My dear father could not know that, among his distant ancestors, there were no less than four genuine kings of England, including the monarch who signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215.