Image by Martin_Heigan via FlickrApart from my Skype 'phone, firmly plugged into the computer, I have only a normal 'phone, firmly fixed by wires into the wall in the kitchen.
I do not have one of those cordless things.
I do not have a mobile 'phone.
Thanks to having a house in the Bermuda Triangle of France I do not have what is colourfully entitled TNT, the telephone, television and mobile 'phone triumvirate, the name of which alone would make me very wary of touching anything to do with it even if it was available, which it isn't.
In my view, if someone wants to contact me, their need to contact is usually greater than my need to be contacted so they can take a chance on my being within earshot when they ring.
If it's important, they can ring again.
If it's double glazing, central heating or an unbeatable offer to install a wind farm in the garden, I can bet my boots that they will ring again.
And again......until informed that they can stick their wind farm where the monkey stuck its' nuts, propeller end first.
I detest wind farms. Aesthetic pollution of the landscape and a financial con to boot.
I'm not too keen to hear about double glazing or central heating, either.
I have been reproached for being difficult to get hold of, which, having a somewhat literal mind, conjures up visions of Menelaos wrestling with the ever changing shapes of the Old Man of the Sea, rather than an irritated woman listening to the telephone ringing in an empty kitchen while her prey is out weeding the garden, but I did not retire to the country in order to be subjected to a bombardment of sales pitches, gossip and organ recitals.
I grew up in a period when telephones were scarce. If you wanted to use one, there were kiosks with coin operated 'phones where you first pressed Button B to see if any coins fell out before parting with your own four pennies and pressing Button A....but who did you want to call? Nobody had a 'phone.
Later a telephone was installed at home, but only because father grew tired of telegrammes summoning him to his mother's death bed which inevitably meant that, having packed an overnight bag and taken the train north he would discover that she had made a miraculous recovery and was upbraiding him for the waste of money in buying the ticket.
Not that he rang the family home, as he would only land on the originator of the telegramme and be told to come at once.
He rang her doctor, who was always happy to provide his own less dramatic version of events, which saved my father a great deal of time, expense and worry.
Telegramme version.....agony.... stomach pains...not expected to last...
Doctor's version....cramming her wame with roast pork and crackling again...
The telephone had been installed in most of my friends' houses by then too....but they certainly weren't meant for our use.
There was a cry common to all our parents...
'You see each other all day at school, you can say what you want to then...the telephone is not a toy!'
Goodness knows what those parents would make of today's world, where the opening bars of the William Tell Overture burst from every handbag, heralding the urgent need of someone, somewhere, to talk to someone else.
Now it appears that the Commission nationale informatique et liberte...the Cnil...has worries that using mobile 'phones may lay people open to surveillance, since the companies operating them can see by some sort of satellite reference where the phone is when it is used....or even when not switched off.
I can't see why this should worry anyone...after all what is the first thing the user of a mobile 'phone does when the person they are ringing answers?
They tell you where they are.
'I'm on the train'
'I'm in the bar.'
'I'm in the ladies' loo at the office.'
They tell you what they're doing.
'I'm ringing you.'
'I'm still waiting for Arthur.'
'I'm checking the cubicles in case anyone else is in here...'
Why should the national security services be deprived of such scintillating nuggets of information?
And, after all, with or without such access to the comings and goings of your mobile 'phone, what is going to stop the said national security services from fitting you up if they feel like it?
Certainly not the Cnil.
The other worry seems to be that private agencies could use this information to track erring spouses.
Now, in a country where the 'cinq a sept'...the hours between five and seven in the evening....is recognised as the time when every French man of a certain status is busy visiting his mistress...what can a mobile 'phone add to the sum of knowledge on the whereabouts of these Lotharios?
The wife is probably going to be more upset if he isn't visiting his mistress, because then she won't be free to receive her own 'friend' in peace....and, moreover, mistressless, he will lose status in the eyes of his peers which means that she will lose status likewise...it would be worse than not having attended the Ecole Nationale d'Administration.
The above, of course, does not apply in the countryside, where immorality has its' own rhythms...but who needs a check on someone's mobile 'phone when they have neighbours?
Nothing passes unobserved in the French countryside and the rural observer has plenty of leisure time in which to put together the results of his or her own observations, add to them those gleaned from other observers and build a whole picture of the life of the person observed.
If the British incomer who is playing away from home in his mistress's unoccupied holiday cottage thinks that the co incidence of his car being parked in the courtyard on Day 1 and her washing line being full of sheets and pillowcases on Day 2 is going to escape the notice of everyone within a five kilometre radius, he is living not in rural France but in cloud cuckoo land.
So perhaps the Cnil is getting worked up over something and nothing.
More worrying for the proud possessors of TNT is the current government proposal to raise value added tax on a greater proportion of the bill for TNT services...currently at 5.5 per cent on 50 per cent of the bill, the Finance Ministry proposes to reduce the level of exoneration to 40 or even 30 per cent of the bill...and is blaming this on the European Union.
A small pebble on a beach of problems, but it can be the small pebbles which irritate the most.
France is not in a good mood, this 'rentree', and people who find that the closing of fiscal loopholes principally affects the less well off are not going to be too pleased at yet another nibble at their dwindling resources.
Just don't let them ring me up to tell me about it.
I'm in the garden and, when it comes to 'phone calls, like Flanders and Swann's ostrich, celebrated in the title to this post,
'I just bury me 'ead.'