I ring my lovely brother, who does terribly clever things on the other side of the world. He is quivering with outrage. Amazon has just sent him an unsolicited email, you know, one of those ‘serving suggestion’ ones, saying more or less, ‘you’ve bought that book, so you’re bound to like this book – buy it immediately.’
Fair enough as a sales technique, I suppose, though maybe a trifle invasive. Trouble was the book they were urging him to buy.
Now, no doubt this is a very hot tome indeed in dog hoarding circles. Its two authors, a sociologist and an investigator, seem like sensible types doing frightfully well in their professions. But here’s the thing: my brother has no interest whatsoever in dog hoarding. He has never hoarded a single dog. He doesn’t even, at the last count, have a pet of any kind. My niece has, it is true, experimented with keeping hermit crabs in the past but the shells are, sad to report, all currently empty. They are not pet hoarders or, as far as I know, hoarders of any kind. I didn’t even know it was possible to hoard pets. Everyone has heard of the miser hoarding his gold (chance would be a fine thing) and, of course, Dulwich is awash with Yummies hoarding their handbags (and again, chance …..)but as for pets, three seems to be the most that anyone I know will admit to. Four if you’re counting really small furries, like hamsters.
My poor brother is at a loss. It does remind me, though, that Amazon, saviour of the lazy shopper, can fire off the odd random salvo – one Christmas, I ordered my other brother a Blackadder book only for him to receive, with very muted expressions of pleasure, a volume called The History of the Sixth Fleet. For a long time, I wondered about the other five fleets until someone put me straight. Once upon a time Mr X did also get sent a book as a present which had been written by a rival for my hand. He sent it back, only to get another identical copy posted by return. Ah, had we but known it then, it was A Sign.
While my brother waits, in some trepidation, for the next suggestion from Amazon (‘Knitting your own yoghurt’, perhaps?) I must admit I do worry about what they might suggest for me. ‘Moth Murder: A profile of insect serial killers,’ and ‘How Clean is it Underneath the Back of Your Fridge?’ would obviously be sure-fire winners for me. And you, dear reader? What would your least favourite book suggestion be?