This year’s charity shop Christmas presents have been unwrapped, and I did quite well. Only two books, thank goodness, and one of them a Sara Paretsky I didn’t already own. Daughter will soon have her buying down to perfection, which is why I’m going to hark back to the Stephen Booth Christmas present book running joke.
I’m a bad mother. Before we gave up on new gifts and went for used ones (and nobody minds if they go back to Oxfam at the end of the week), I used to write a wish list, just to give people a vague idea of my needs. Four years ago I asked for the first Stephen Booth novel, Black Dog. Then I decided to ask the local bookshop to get one signed for me when Stephen did an event there in December, which I couldn’t attend.
So I ticked the book off the list by the time Daughter arrived home with one she’d just bought. Despair.
I suggested getting it changed for the second book, Dancing with the Virgins. Done.
Then I was given that very book, signed to me, by the school librarian, for services rendered. Oops.
By this time Daughter was ready to ask to be adopted by someone nice and lovely and normal.
A year or so later she came home from the local charity shop, very excited. She asked where I keep my Stephen Booths, and went to have a look. This satisfied her, and all was explained on Christmas Eve with the arrival of One Last Breath, the fifth book, which I actually needed at that point.
So it has a special place in my heart, and it was the one I asked Stephen to sign this summer when we met. And I try to behave around present buying times these days. I’ve not been forgiven yet.