Joseph Heller got it right:
Last Tuesday lunchtime, much to my chagrin, my iPad wouldn’t open the BBC iPlayer page, thereby depriving Madame and me of the possibility of listening to the News Quiz while chowing down on our baguettes. Disappointing.
Madame didn’t seem to have a problem with her iPad so, following my iron rule that everything is personal, I naturally assumed that the problem lay with mine and that I would need to sort it out it later that afternoon.
Further post-prandial investigation revealed that some websites remained accessible – including Yahoo and Gmail – but most of them simply wouldn’t load. The Apple site was one of those that remained, at least partially, open for business, so I started digging around for possible solutions. I tried everything they suggested that I could actually understand: reset network connections, for example, and the standard fallback of ‘turn it off, then turn it on again’. Nothing worked. Things were starting to get tense.
Perhaps I needed a new iPad? This potential solution was rapidly dismissed, on the twin grounds of (a) being obviously just wishful thinking and (b) my desktop Mac was displaying the same problem. As indeed now was Madame’s iPad and Macbook. Clearly, my increasingly fevered brain started nagging me, it was a generic Apple problem.
As I sat there, bemoaning the utter misery of my first-world existence and trying to understand why Tim Cook had it in for me when I’d never even met him, Madame gently suggested that perhaps it was an external problem.
Well, I suppose it might be. So I called the helpline of our internet service provider and began to explain my problem. The very nice lady interrupted me;
‘Yes, sir, we have had a lot of calls about this; it is a system problem affecting the whole of France. They are trying to fix the problem right now. I have checked your line and it is in proper working order.’
‘Ah, so I shouldn’t take it personally then?
‘No sir, not at all.’
Mollified, albeit only slightly, I rang off and spent the evening trying to come to terms with my, hopefully temporary, loss. Palpably, though, it continued to prey on my mind because, after I woke up in the middle of the night to do what elderly gentlemen are wont to have to do in the wee small hours, I lay awake considering the evidence.
interesting suspicious that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were still working, and that emails could still come in and out? Youtube was okay too. And Wikipedia. Surely the only possible interpretation was that the great majority of internet users would be totally unaffected by the ‘problem’.
On the other hand, the BBC website wasn’t responding, and neither was Sky News. So, the targets were obviously those of us who wanted to check on the news. What was going on that ‘they’ didn’t want us to know about? I couldn’t get the French weather either; what did that mean?
Maybe there’d been a military coup. I discounted that idea fairly quickly, on the grounds that if there had been some kind of putsch they’d presumably want as many people as possible to know about it. Surely it could only mean that the problem was not generic, but specifically aimed at me.
After all, I only had the very nice lady’s word for it that the problem was nationwide – and if it was nationwide, how come there was no reference to it on either the home page of the Le Monde website, or the Actualités page of Yahoo France, both of which, now I came to think about it, were accessible. Ah yes, but I very rarely visited those sites. And of course they would know that, wouldn’t they?
No, the more I turned it over in my mind, the more obvious it became that this so-called ‘problem’ – which wasn’t resolved until Friday evening – was just a smokescreen for a personal attack, aimed at maximising my irritation and inconvenience, thereby triggering a complete mental and physical collapse.
Don’t ask me why: I don’t know why. I never know why. I just know they’re out to get me.
Well – and I’m perfectly aware that you’re reading this, you bastards – it’s not going to work. I am made of
shinier sterner stuff: