The French and e-mail addresses

Having been on the Internet since 1996 I make extensive use of e-mails and greatly prefer them as a means of communication to typed letters , (I haven't hand written a letter for over 40 years and never intend to do so again as my my "print script" writing is atrocious), and also over the phone which unless I have no other option I use only as a social instrument- I have always disliked doing business, especially if contentious, over the phone even in the UK) There are many reasons for this and increasingly since I came to live and work in France as I am not as yet sufficiently fluent in spoken and aural French to use the phone. I also like e-mails as they combine the best aspects of a letter and a fax in that they are a very quick way to communicate information and can contain links and attachments and a record is kept of both sides of the conversation.

Now in the UK and elsewhere the provision and use of a business's e-mail address is a commonplace and is seen on letterheads, business cards, adverts, hoardings, on company vehicles etc and they are very widely used, a great boon IMO. Now correct me please if I am wrong here, but there seems in the 11 months I have lived in France to be a great reluctance by French Businesses and Professionals to provided their e-mail address. They must lose a lot of potential customers that way and for non Francophones such as myself it is very infuriating indeed!

Have any of the "Old Hands" on this Forum encountered the same difficulties as myself in this regard?

Apart from food and groceries at the local Carrefiour Contact or at the larger Le Clerc a few Tram Stops away I do most of my shopping on the Internet as I dislike"live" shopping anyway and have found no difficulties for example with Amazon be that the UK, US, German or French divisions thereof. I'd like to do business with more French Organisations and professionals such as Accountants, and Tradesmen but please provide me and others with your e-mail addresses!

When working as a design draughtsman at a Hawker Siddeley subsidiary back in the 1960's we had no option but to put ALL writing on the drawings in BLOCK CAPITALS so that they would be easily read out in the workshops. As my handwriting has never been great this was a habit I readily adopted and have stuck with ever since. Like you, to me, the computer and printer has been a god send as was AOL and e-mail.

I was taught a beautiful script in my first two years at school. The problem is that it was in Cologne. So, once we moved to London and the teachers were just teaching children to write block form letters, disconnected rather than script, my handwriting was doomed. To practice I copied the roman alphabet from book pages, so came up with an 'a' in this form rather than the circle with a down stroke behind and persisted in crossing numeral 7 and doing something like an inverted V for 1. I use them to this day.

However, the constant battle with teachers through primary and secondary school only made things worse rather than better and the beautiful Germanic script was lost in time and something resembling and army of sick insects dancing on paper evolved. Within 24 hours of reading I cannot read it myself!

My room mate when I started studying had an old upright typewriter from a second hand shop which he soon replaced with a second hand Olivetti electric model. He was a pioneer of hi-tech of course. I 'inherited' (or sequestered) the former, later bought one of the latter and once we began to have early network computers that was that with writing. In those early days the punch cards were far more legible than my writing. So here I am today. I sign and date things, but I am not even allowed to write things on shopping lists, simply tell her or one of them what I want to add and that will then be written for me.

That is bad, but then I have had things in writing where I could not even make out individual letters! I once asked somebody who gave me something that looked like the graph spewed out by a seismometer what he had written to which he sighed and read the bumps with great ease. I never knew anybody who could read his writing anyway and had my doubts until being presented with that couple of sentences. At least roughly one in twelve letters stands out on mine.

I know Shirley, I was being facetious...

Sorry Sir!

Long before Rock & Roll, we used scratchy ink pens. Left-handers were regarded as disabled or even perverted and were constantly bullied by teachers who could not understand that it was necessary to rotate the page 30° clockwise in order to avoid smudging what had just been written. But the most hated boy in our school was the left-hander who always won the handwriting competitions! How many times were we told - If he can do it........?

Why bring your aunt into this, as for her feather...!

This was primary school Peter, not yet the good old days.

As in "La plume de ma tante"?

Jane, didn't writing and the like used to be called 'penmanship' in the good old days of Rock 'n Roll?

Our school used to enter the national Italic writing contest, I wa never elected to go forward!

Brain quicker than hand - that explains all.
But thinking about some recent high profile court cases, hand quicker than brain is an even bigger problem!

How I used to admire those writers who could produce beautifully penned pages of Gothic script - even if it was practically unreadable.

It all went wrong for me when I was learning to write in primary school. The teacher told us to slope our letters so they were pointing to the right-hand corner of the classroom. Being a literalist, it occurred to me that the writing would look different, depending on where you were sitting in the room. Worried about that for years, until I was finally saved by an Amstrad word processor.

Funny old world innit? I hold dear my ability to communicate by the written word but have to say I do find email the bees knees. My problem with a pen has always been that my brain is quicker than my hand which results in gibberish interposed with copious crossings out. Me & my keyboard have reached an agreement. I'll type (peck) slower & it will usually let me know if I make a spelling boo boo. I know it's not as personal as a hand written missive but at least people can read the damned things which is, after all , the purpose of it:-)


Wouldn't like to say Norman , can I plead the Fifth Amendment ?

Peter? Applied 1845 and got sorted by 1900 - Ye Gods you're even older than me!!!

Bit late coming to this one, but it does remind me of a Lecture I delivered in about 1990 if I recall, which was in the relatively early days of email. The subject was 'New Media - A New Way of Trading or just a new way of Pissing us off?' I swear that was the genuine title. I think I saw at that time the speeding up process, and whilst it had superficial appeals it also presented (to me) the dangers of tripping oneself up - literally through the speed offered. I believe that has all come to pass, plus a few extras.

One because it is so fast for us to prepare and send an email, we expect a fast response. With letters we considered what we wrote, and who the letter was addressed to - do we do that today? I doubt it. As an aside in the early days of Direct Marketing and I refer to the 70's predominantly, we used to even consider when a letter should arrive (Monday was a bad day if you are interested) All letters (excluding DM variety) were regarded as 'special' - and my even earlier days as a Postman in the UK in the late 50's showed that clearly. Replies were treasured, and in many cases were the only contact old people had. Pensions would arrive by mail, which meant us Posties knew all those on our 'walks' as they were called.

Now it is quick, easy and to a large extent the art and craft of writing has vanished, and I for one find that sad. Young people now want things even faster and now are resorting to SMS which to be is almost total gibberish. How long before we retreat into the grunts and nods of days before even my memories.

I have no doubt that there are ways a US product could be made to work in France, but it's just extra trouble.

Shipping costs could exceed the cost of the product.

It might need a 110v supply.

All the plugs will need changing.

If it goes wrong, it's a big hassle sending it back.

European answering machines are perfectly OK.

So buy locally, give a small profit to European business and save yourself trouble.

An exception might be made in the case of lawnmower drive belts - it is possible to buy those from the US at 50% of French prices - delivered!

THe phone line on most machines actually plugs in using a RJ11 connector so all you need to do is find a similar lead witha French style telephone plug on. Or if your ADSL filter has a RJ11 socket on it, a lead with RJ11 connectors on both ends.

If you do buy from the States, check that the machine will work on a 230V 50Hz supply

This is the company that I purchased our telephone adapters from in the UK before moving to France. We used our UK base station phone with the two wireless extensions with no problem in spite of being told we would not be able to use our UK equipment by several people. Still have the fax machine and my old HP All in One could also fax just don't use them and prefer the e-mail every time.