I am sure I am not the only one who loves Foyles bookshop. I don’t know what it is or why I prefer it above all others in London but I cannot get enough of it. Anyway, I had reason to write them a letter recently about a book I bought there.
The following is the letter;
Having been lucky enough to find myself in close proximity of you for a number of years I have had the great pleasure to get to know you. It’s been a long and fruitful acquaintance that I have much enjoyed and I believe having relieved me of the best part of a small fortune I would imagine that you yourself have enjoyed the times we have spent together.
Don’t assume I am in any way disagreeable about parting with the money.
Like any worthwhile addiction there is always a price to pay.
You Mathematics department is currently babysitting me through a degree, your computing department has tutored me through four jobs and one major career change and just recently your second hand store has been furnishing my mind with classics like Sophocles, Virgil and the Essays of Charles Lamb.
Unfortunately, like a typical Sophocles play this does not end well!
I recently, (a few months ago, I read a lot of books so to me a few months is recent), was dumb enough to buy an even dumber book. This book was to help me do more of what I like to do best faster than I had ever done it before. No, I do not mean Sex, my wife informs me that I am quite fast enough in that area. Yes, it was a book on speed reading, no, this is not a joke. The offending parchment is as follows:
Tony Buzan (author)
Paperback , 198 x 129mm, 96pp
21 Jul 2006
Having read the first chapter of this scroll I noticed something woefully wrong with it. The first test that is meant to test your reading speed and understanding is complete gibberish. I wondered at this for a while and I decided to test the first and last tests in the book. I tested this using various reading ease scores commonly available on Microsoft Word. The tests confirmed my doubts about the book. The end test is substantially easier than the first test in the book. I can only assume this is to prove that the book has worked wonders on the reader when it has done nothing of the sort. Basically I believe the book to be nothing more than a farce created to make the scribbler of said rubbish some cash by taking advantage of us bookworms.
Having never purchased such expensive toilet paper before. I decided that I should take it back and try and exchange it. Note: I am avoiding puns about used or even partially used toilet paper.
I left it in my drawer and like any avid reader, promptly forgot about it!
Just today 01 July 2008 approximately 14:15 I found the offending papyrus in my drawer and decided that I should try and exchange it for another book. There are several unblemished darlings (books) I have had my eye on that I would love to take on a date and where better to chat them up than at an old friends. So off I went to yours in the hope that I might get lucky and be bringing back a real beauty.
This was not to be!
To cut a long story longish I was met with many woeful looks from you. I was informed that there is a 14 day return policy and that without the receipt there would be no exchange. Like Ajax in a fit of rage I left the offending parchment with one of your brazen cronies ( sounds better than staff, they were actually quite nice ) on the basement floor and exited the building. In such a fit I have never been and I must surely have looked a madman as I dashed across the road like a spurned book lover.
However, unlike Ajax I am not about to throw myself on my sword after a severe bout of self pity. Instead I would like to appeal to an old lover to see sense in this matter.
I wasnt’t sure what to expect by way of reply so when I got the following letter it amused me no end. I must say that the following reply was much more eloquent than mine.
Dear Mr Jackson,
As is the ultimate fate of all cronies, it has fallen to me to brazenly resolve the troubles of which you so eloquently speak.
Being the very crony who served you yesterday afternoon, I suspect that I am best placed to do so – and am, by the way, thankful to have been left in your mind’s eye with my personality somewhat intact.
I can assure you that there is no-one more generally suspicious and specifically outraged about the content of certain and so called Self-Help texts. Your humble author has in fact ended up offending several eavesdropping customers with irate tirades against the fake and the spurious. Yet, both sadly and happily, in a homage to freedom of expression we continue to sell all books, and allow the discerning to make up their own minds.
No more do I like the prospect of standing on protocol and informing people that “orders are, in fact, orders.” It makes me feel like everyone that celluloid and print have taught me so painstakingly to mistrust.
However, I have a natural aversion to being bereft of a job at certain key points in my life, and as thus refused your request in order to ensure my continued employment.
Happily though, there is nothing more adept at melting the heart of any customer service operative, crony, and manager thereof than a complaint that shimmers gently, winks and promptly turns in to a message of amour.
Therefore, having engaged in a lengthy discussion of over twenty temporal seconds, we have decided to stand upon our own codex and offer you the proposed exchange.
In the language of the relationship, we donate you the ubiquitously mentioned “trousers”, descend upon one knee and weepily inform you that we would like to give the whole thing another try, but that we still do not think it is the right time to move in together.
Those terms accepted, please return to the Natural History desk at your leisure, where the Unmentionable will be awaiting exchange for what will hopefully be a less distressing tome.
My favourite line is “but that we still do not think it is the right time to move in together”. That had me on the floor. Needless to say I am more than pleased with the outcome. I am still very much in love with Foyles.