(Alternative title: “When in France, Always Blame the Customer”)

I re-entered the house at 13:30, having spent all morning working on the problem with the reedbed sump. Almost immediately I received an SMS from LSS saying that the Orange technician was on his way. I replied saying I’d believe it when I saw it…

Wonder of wonders. Two minutes later a van arrived containing two Orange technicians. “We’ve come to investigate a problem with your Orange connection.”

I led them indoors, where the Livebox was displaying a flashing orange light. For brevity I shall refer to the technicians as “T1” and “T2”.
“So,” said T1. “When did the trouble start?”
“30th May,” I replied.
His eyebrows shot up. “30th MAY???”
“That’s correct.”

T1 unplugged the RJ11 cable from the wall socket, and plugged in a large piece of test equipment. The light on the Livebox obviously started flashing red as it lost what little connection it had. After a few moments:
T1: “It’s not finding it.”
He unplugged the test equipment, and reconnected the RJ11 cable. The Livebox was still flashing red.
T1: “It’s the box. You’ll need to change it.”
Me: “What, again?”
T2: “Oh! It’s been changed already? When?”
Me: “In April I think.”
T2: “Oh.”

T1: “What’s this thing?” (pointing to my Linksys router)
Me: “A Linksys router. It’s not connected to your Livebox. We were so fed up with Orange, that we got a satellite internet connection instead.”
T1 grunted.
“It’s a switch”, T2 said to T1. Yes, technically correct. It’s an ADSL router with an inbuilt switch, and the router part is not currently being used.

T2 then pressed the wifi button on the Livebox (I don’t use the wifi on the Livebox, even when we HAD an internet connection; so it was switched off). He seemed quite disappointed that it made no difference to the flashing red light.

T1 again unplugged the RJ11 cable from the wall socket. He examined the cable. “I don’t like the look of this wire, it’s not original.” He turned to me. “This is the problem. It belonged to the first box, so that’s probably why it’s not working,” he said. (No it didn’t, actually. It originally belonged to my 3-Com modem. But it’s longer than the one provided by Orange, so it can be routed neatly under LSS’s desk).

He plugged in the test equipment again.
T1: “Oh. It’s still not getting a connection.”
T2: “Try setting the speed.”
T1: “what should it be?”
T2: “2 meg.”
T1 fiddled with some buttons on the console.
T1: “It’s found it.”
T1 unplugged the test equipment, and dug in his bag, coming up with a length of RJ11 cable, which he connected to the wall socket. He gave the other end to T2, who plugged it in to the Livebox. The Livebox was still flashing red.
T2 switched it off and on again. (That’s an IT joke).
The light went from flashing red, to flashing orange, to steady green.

T1: “There you go. The problem was your wire.”
Me: “Thanks very much. Are you sure it’s going to stay like that?”
T1: “Oh yes, it’s all fixed now.”
Me: “Very good. Bon journée.”
They drove off.

I came back into the house to check, and burst out laughing. The light was flashing red. I sent an SMS to LSS to tell her. She called them; and they said they were testing the line and it would come back on momentarily.

True enough, the light started flashing orange. After a good five minutes, it hadn’t changed; so I left it to its own devices and went back to my work on the reedbed.

At 15:30, when I checked again, the light was green. I switched the wifi off.

Unconvinced of their explanation that my cable was at fault, I unplugged their RJ11 cable, and reconnected my original cable. (You see, in my box of computer bits-and-pieces, I do have a couple of spare RJ11 cables. When we had problems initially, I did try a different cable. It made no difference).

The Livebox light flashed red. Then orange. Then steady green.

So, it’s not the wire then.

An hour later there was a “click” from the Livebox. And the light started flashing red again. Just for the fun of it, I unplugged my RJ11 cable, reconnected theirs, and rebooted the box.
Result: the flashing red light continued to flash red.
Some time later I once again connected my own cable. The light turned green again about three minutes later.

So, apart from all of today’s fun with Orange, I managed to sort out the issue with the greywater sump. I removed the plastic barrel, enlarged the hole in the ground, and then poured a limecrete foundation, basically encasing the plastic barrel in limecrete. This should eliminate the need for bricks to hold it down when the water table rises. A new bilge pump was then installed, and everything is now back in working order.

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