Dom Joly: Down and out in Paris and Twitterdom

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The Independent Online

I died last week. A comedian of whom I had never heard but with a fairly decent number of followers tweeted that I was dead. It was apparently as an aside to some half-baked joke about a mobile phone but, as I have learned, twitter is not the place for subtlety.

I started to get hundreds of tweets asking if I was really dead? This seemed peculiar as, if I was, I wasn't quite sure what sort of response they were expecting: tweets from beyond the grave? I tweeted back that I was very much alive and enjoying a holiday in France, but this was not enough for twitterers.

They wanted proof. How did they know that this was me tweeting and not some PR lackey? I explained that if I were dead I would be unable to pay said PR lackey and, therefore, it had to be me. This was still not enough. Logic does not go down well on twitter.

Requests came in for photographic proof of my "aliveness". I wrote: "I is not dead" on a piece of paper and photographed myself using my computer's inbuilt camera. I had forgotten that, for reasons unbeknown to me, it takes a mirror image of you so the words came out backwards.

This immediately started another storm of protest with one person even equating my message to Paul McCartney not wearing shoes on the cover of Abbey Road.

I eventually managed to take another picture with the words in the correct configuration. Back came the pedants. They now wanted a photograph of me with that day's paper; otherwise, no dice. I realised, rather late in the day, that for a truly relaxing holiday, I need to be offline.

This is not the first time that I've been dead in France. In fact, I think that legally, I am still so.

After university, I moved to Paris and shared a flat with somebody I'd known at school. Paris being Paris I met a girl and decided to move in with her. My flatmate was very cool about it all and assured me that he had a new person waiting to move in and that he would take care of the paperwork. High on life and love and a newly acquired addiction to pastis, I packed up and cycled over the Seine to my new life in La Bastille.

All was well for six months until I attempted to withdraw some money from my French bank account. I was unable to do so and, upon asking why, was informed by a very austere bank manager that I had been declared dead. I showed him my passport and jumped up and down a bit to show my "aliveness", but to no avail.

The bank manager was very sorry but French bureaucracy had declared me dead and this had to be respected. I made some enquiries, and it wasn't long before I discovered the cause of my demise.

My ex-flatmate, a laid-back fellow at the best of times, had become very relaxed about paying any bills that were still in my name. Every time somebody rang to demand payment he simply parroted the words"tristement, il est mort". This apparently did the trick for him, as he didn't pay any bills for quite some time.

For me, however, life became very difficult. I was unable to access any funds and was refused employment twice after bemused employers discovered that they were interviewing a ghost. In the end I took the only job I could get – waiter at the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory. This was not exactly the idyllic Bohemian Parisian experience I'd imagined.

Offline in the real world of the Dordogne, however, the only "claret" currently being spilled may indeed be mine, but it is coming from a rather special bottle of Saint Sulpice.

Vive la France!