I've come up with a theory. And I think it's a good one. I think that since Mai '68, France has been in a state of arrested development. In some ways, many ways, this is a good thing. People still queue at boulangeries during their lunch breaks to buy good quality, locally made bread. Men play petanque in the parks as soon as the weather gets warm. Bretons still dance whatever dances people in Brittany dance. But in other ways it's a bad thing. It's terrible.
Last night, just before going to bed, I received a rather unpleasant electric shock. From my sink. The cause seems to be that my washing machine isn't earthed, and I, washing my hands, barefoot, connected myself to the excess current. At first, I couldn't for the life of me work out what was causing the electric current. So, the next morning, I talked to the gardienne about it, who's a very nice lady, and very helpful with any problem. When I explained my experience, she only replied knowingly, "Ah, that's the washing machine. It isn't earthed and it's discharging current." From the tone of her voice it was if I was to expect to be periodically electrocuted by my water supply, and it was something all French people who have washing machines have to put up with. Well, at least I have a washing machine...
On the bright side, while most French companies and services have barely realised that the internet exists, one stands out as an exception: ratp.fr. This is the website for information on Parisian public transport, and I can say that it's one of the best websites I've come across. The interactive map of the transport system is amazing, and much better than the near-illegible pdf file that is given on the London Underground site. The route planner even tells you how much carbon dioxide your journey will take up compared with a car. I'm amazed that someone decided that would be useful information to tell you when you're planning to get across Paris. Plus you get email updates warning of up-coming strikes. On a not so bright side, for some unfathomable reason, I can no longer top up my phone online.
On a completely different note, I saw Quantum of Solace on Tuesday. It was a jour ferie (bank holiday), which France has an abundance of, so people from Church decided to have a group foray to the cinema. And it was good - much better than the reviews made out. I did come to the conclusion however, that Bond and restaurants never mix. Within two minutes maximum of James Bond walking into a bar, restaurant or cafe, there will be a violent shoot-out, with diners and drinkers cowering under tables and showered with debris, bodies, and other miscellaneous items. Hotels seemed pretty safe though.