Got it done ! Amazing !
I decided that I was not going to give up ( thank you Sir Winston ) and rang and rang till they said "your waiting time is 3 minutes".
Then the phone went all funny so I had to ring off and ring and ring again.
Eventually I got this nice young lady who said she'd have to email Apple (Fancy!)
She then went on to try to tempt me to upgrade to an iPhone 4 at a cut-down price, special offer today for our most faithful customers, sir. This would have been more convincing if I had been with them for more than 9 months. Even she hesitated when she said "puisque ça fait ... um ... neuf mois et onze jours que vous êtes avec nous". Are people really so fickle? Anyway, I reckon by Christmas they'll pay me to have one, like they did with this thing.
Steve Jobs got back to me while she was trying to persuade me (c'est si beau, je l'ai sous les yeux ici, c'est si jolie, c'est si léger, ça fait des vidéos, je suis sûre que ça fait des gateaux si on trouve la bonne application...) so I did what Steve's email said. I got a dead cat and swung it by its tail in the garden anticlockwise while balancing the iPhone on my nose. After some alarming beeps and buzzes the phone said it was unlocked. It then proceeded to play me up all morning, missing calls, changing my sms from "J'arrive" to "Martine" (got Simon guessing...) and generally driving me nuts.
Still, all's well that ends well. Except for the cat.