Monday 31 January 2011

Farmhouse outpost

'The internet and mobile communications have revolutionised our personal and business lives?' Discuss:
It has now been just over a week since my sister had a severe brain haemorrhage that was extremely close to taking her life. That week has been nothing short of sheer hell. I was warned it may be a roller-coaster ride and that we all should hang on tight as her condition buffets us forwards, backwards and sideways. It has certainly done that in spades. 2 operations, prolonged coma, high risks of strokes, and absolute uncertainly have all added their degree of stress. The counterbalance to that has been formidable doctors, surgeons, nurses and facilities. I have to admit total admiration for the new Queen Elisabeth hospital in Birmingham, not just for its amazing modern architecture but for all its staff. We are not out of the woods yet and have been warned it may be months before we see any real progress from her current state. I and just about everyone else will gladly take that as a good result.
However, for the last week I have assumed the role of go-between. The project manager if you will, liaising with doctors, nurses, children, parents, friends, pets and family in a bid to keep everyone informed of progress and on the visiting rota. Not a problem, I am quite comfortable in that role, it keeps me busy and challenges me.
The real problem I do have is that I have been staying with my parents, both in their eighties, at the old farmhouse. This house not only does not have internet access, it also has very limited mobile phone coverage. To add to the problem, most of the rooms, including the one we are sleeping in, still have round-pin plugs! There are probably only a few people who even remember these things which were phased on in the seventies to be replaced with the square ones the rest of us have now. They stopped selling adaptors from square to round about 30 years ago. This is itself is very inconvenient, especially as I am trying my best to communicate to in excess of 100 people requiring updates on Sarah’s condition. As I am first point of call in an emergency, it has also been difficult to ensure that I am contactable 24/7. Mobile phones require charging. But I have managed and, with Wendy’s support, we are still managing, albeit somewhat displaced from our own comfort zones.
 We eat out every night as the cooker only has one gas ring, which is lit from a match. Also the gas oven frequently goes out which is slightly alarming. The house does have a TV, which is unable to show anything except films pre 1950, mostly starring John Wayne. Likewise, the radio only plays classical music in between adverts for mobility scooters and Zimmer frames, very loudly. The phone line is crackly, possibly still run on copper wire.
99% of the houses in rural France are more up to date than den of antiquity. All this would be extremely quaint were it not for my immediate need for enough technology to fulfil my liaising role, but I am not complaining, just coping.
What I do find incredible is that the family farm is still run from this outpost. Without internet in this day and age? Is it any wonder that Tesco buys all their food from overseas?
Broadband has now been ordered, but that will take a month to install. A month? Good old BT? So only one thing for it, I am about to order 500 carrier pigeons and keep them in the granary. Anyone know of a good website I can buy them from?

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