Island Life by David Slack


Wake up and smell the burning raid array

I was at the third chapter of The God Delusion when the server crashed yet again, with, yet again, extreme prejudice.

Loyal readers will be aware that the last time this happened, the fate of my business was in the hands of a data recovery team in Dallas. Loyal readers may also recall in my telling of the last story that I took steps to ensure that such a thing should never happen again. On my technology slot on Radio Live I proselytised about the necessity of safety nets and backups. I meant every word, but I also reposed undue trust in other people to ensure that such things were being done. If you want to be sure it's being done correctly, do it yourself. Our holiday in France was interrupted for the worst part of three weeks as I slowly put the pieces back together and waited once more for hopeful news from Dallas. It was a very long time in coming.

For the past six weeks we have been living in truly remarkable surroundings. Our home has been a stone guard house in a 13th century fort, sitting on a hill in the fields of Gascony. We are here because last Christmas I went to see The Checks play a homecoming show at the Masonic and got to chatting over a beer about holiday plans. I learned that Ed Knowles' dad's friend has a place in the South of France. Voila, and merci David Knowles and Cam Calder.

It's a faithfully restored stone building with exposed beams, windows that taper to a narrow slit through which one can fire arrows and defend oneself, one's honour, one's wife, one's family, one's lord and master and one's cattle. It also has piping hot water, all modern appliances, beautifully decorated and spacious rooms, and enormous swords above a fireplace large enough to accommodate a small bullock on a spit. It will not, however, have internet or telephone facilities until next month.

There is a hotel twenty minutes down the road with high speed internet. For the better part of three French autumn weeks I have been a semi-permanent guest toiling up to twenty hours a day here without a permit. Even if you're entitled to work, you're really supposed to limit yourself to 35 a week, although of course Nicholas Sarkozy aims to change that. I can promise more to come on such things and many others, now that, I trust, regular posting has resumed. I actually resolved the problem about a week ago, but the experience was such a sour one that each time I've sat down to write about it I have lost the will.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I have rolled through much of my life with a relatively cavalier outlook and there has been little cost. Only occasionally have the wheels come off, and then not for long. This most recent experience has chastened me. I'm getting too old to live with quite so much insouciance.

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