It’s officially autumn, but the skies are clear, the sun is shining on the coast and there’s an enormous cruise liner in the bay. Because it’s the deepest natural harbour on the Med – it used to be the base of the US Sixth Fleet until General de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO - the ships can come in so close to shore that you can hear the passengers of the ocean liners being given their orders for the day.
Funny how, even for the retired, days of the week still have their original significance. Saturday is the day we don’t shave (not me anyway – don’t know about her), buy the Times and try to finish the crossword (successful yesterday, but only thanks to dictionary, Google and Thesaurus Rex); Sunday is the day we don’t set the alarm for 7am, which allows us to wake naturally at 5.45 - and we go out to lunch by the sea. We could do any of the above on any other day of the week but we don’t.
So, it being Sunday and the second anniversary of Tony Blair’s unsuccessful heart surgery ( he survived) we decided to honour the marina at St.-Laurent-du-Var and watch the yachties sailing the same bit of water they sailed the previous Sunday, while we ate dorade royale (sea bream) grillée with a chilled rosé.
I am currently accepting nominations for the world’s worst website. My own nominee, British Airways, (ba.com) should win in a canter. (This is its new, vastly improved version.) They ask for your life history, then cut you off as you push the ‘Confirm’ button. You want to change your departure time; they put you back to the beginning and you have to give your life history again. They give you the price of the cheapest flight on any one day – but when you go to book it, you find that it gets in after midnight, and all the other flights that day cost four times as much.
Yesterday I wanted to know the cost in money or frequent-flyer miles to upgrade a reservation. After many infuriating attempts, the web site said, ‘to upgrade an existing reservation you must call the following number…’ I called it, and after I got through the cascade, it told me to go to the web site.
A month ago I asked a fairly simple question: ‘If I am unable to travel for compassionate or medical reasons, can I claim a refund of the airport ‘taxes’ that BA did not have to pay?’ They offered precisely 399 answers, none of which applied, and a month later I’m still waiting for an answer – though, to be fair, I did receive a questionnaire asking if I had found the response (on a scale of 0% to 100%) useful!
I know their flight network is more complex, but you have to wonder why they can’t just hire the guys who built the easyjet site.
Oh dear, I’m ranting again: pass the rosé.
Daniel, our local newsagent, has barely grunted at us in for the past seven years - proprietors of newspaper shops have to pass a special grumpiness test and Daniel must have qualified at Seven Dwarfs - or is it Dwarves? - level. But I put him in an article in France Today, and although he couldn't read it we're now soul-mates - addresses me by name and wishes me a good day. I'll have to put the boulangère in the next article.