Mystery gift

A Mystery Gift.


Coming in from work the other night I spotted an Amazon parcel. It wasn’t an expected delivery, I hadn’t ordered anything recently. I speedily opened it up and discovered a copy of Mr Francis Wheens’ “Strange Days Indeed”- odd, I mused. I had bought a copy of that book a few weeks ago- It may have been from Amazon- I just assumed that this was one of those nice mistakes that sometimes happens with online stores, like the time I got four CF cards for my camera for the price of two.

I didn’t have time to look at the paperwork properly for a wee while, what with the usual routine of trying to cook, taking the bairn out to inspect the shed and all that. I was tootering about later and picked the box and notes off the floor where the bairn had thrown it and made a startling discovery:

It was a gift.


That had never happened before. I don’t even have a gift list at Amazon. Well, that’s a lie- I didn’t think I had a gift/wish list at Amazon- turns out I did- all titles I’d added like a bookmark way back in 2007. Mr Wheen’s book was not on the list.


I grabbed the book while I went out to smoke. My mind was racing. Was this an attempt to attack the security of Woodside HQ? Could agents of some mysterious organisation have somehow tampered with the book. I leafed through it gingerly- somehow expecting pages to be cut out and some sort of threatening object inserted. It was safe though, I looked for clues- no pages were marked, no notations or anything scribbled in the margins. I flicked through the index- sometimes good clues are found there. Nothing. I sniffed the book, no strange smells at all. My training in covert operations had prepared me well for detecting explosives and poison manually. I’m almost like a walking laboratory.


I was a little disappointed- having just recently read a Jon Ronson book which begins with the arrival of a strange book- my mind was half heartedly expecting a great journalistic quest- but no such luck, my life just isn’t that interesting- which I kind of like, I’m not that interested in excitement beyond playing guitar or typing into the void.


I decided that somebody must have made a mistake. On returning inside I re-examined the packing slip. Information was scant. Only an order number and a name. It may not be a real person though, Amazon requires no authentication of title. For a while on the site I was amusing myself writing reviews as a certain “Captain Fuckface”.


All this made me a little curious. I posted on Facebook, just to see if anybody wanted the book. After all I now had two copies. A friend wanted to swap for a book I liked the sound of. I thought I’d better make a little effort to investigate this. All I had was the order number and a name- Darren Searle. I bashed out a quick e-mail to Amazon customer services, and also Googled the name. Nothing rang a bell. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find- perhaps that “Darren Searle” was a generic name that Amazon used to issue refunds or exchanges- But no it wasn’t.


I soon got the e-mail that I was expecting, Amazon were very understanding- or the outsourced Customer adviser was very understanding- probably all the way from Bangalore. The book was addressed to me, so it was mine to do with as I pleased. Good. They could also contact the sender- but not give me any details. It was up to the mysterious Darren Searle to contact me if he (or indeed she) wished. A bit frustrating, just because I’m really nosey.


I swapped the book. It’s going in the post to Ian today. Maybe I’ll get an e-mail from Darren- he has my taste in literature pretty much down pat. Just a shame I had the book already. Oh well.



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