After making the long, painful journey between thinking about getting up and actually doing it, I discovered that the world outside was covered in thick snow. There were no tyre tracks and when I looked at my car, half-buried at the bottom of a hill, it was clear that I wouldn't be going to work.
I was snowbound for five days. This could have been a good thing, but unfortunately my sons' school was cancelled and I ended up with an extended "Director's cut" version of the Christmas holidays, with extra scenes of temper tantrums and complaints of being bored. Also, the heating packed up.
This satellite photograph shows that last week's snow affected almost everywhere in the United Kingdom:
It's serious stuff - the worst winter for nearly 50 years, apparently. In spite of this, when I returned to work today, I found this email - from someone in England - about a book that was ordered on the 30th December:
"This book has not yet arrived, and I'm a bit concerned that it may have been lost in the post. Could you please let me know if you're aware of any delay?"
I enjoyed writing the reply.
After spending most of my working life in bookshops, it's a huge bonus not to have to deal directly with my customers. Working with the public is like Russian Roulette - 95% of the people may be fine, but you never know when the bullet's coming. Internet bookselling is a welcome change from bricks and mortar.
The one downside of internet retail is that some people feel free to send pompous, belligerent and occasionally downright rude emails, knowing it's unlikely that I'll ever have the opportunity to give them the punch in the face that they so clearly deserve. A simple typo prompted someone to send an email beginning "You idiots..." (I replied in a "forthright" manner and received a rather shamefaced response from someone who claimed that his email account had been "hacked into").
A few days later, a duplicate order problem prompted someone in New Zealand to send a long, bitter diatribe complaining that booksellers in Britain probably couldn't be bothered to post orders to the other side of the world. A chippy, pathetic and unwarranted whinge.
What a contrast to blogging where, so far, I have seen the best of humanity. My ambition for this year is to meet at least one person from the blogosphere. Ideally, I'd like to organise some sort of viral, flashmob-style meeting, but that probably contravenes the First Law of Blogging.