I thought last week was bad, but this one has been far worse, with one email after another from customers asking where their books are. It has made me realise that however hard you work, if you sell on the internet you can be completely buggered by the postal network.
I could tell from the emails that some people were very angry. As one person wrote, "How hard is it to put a book in an envelope and post it?" Fortunately, Mark Twain's advice - "When in doubt, tell the truth" - has paid off. Almost every customer has been extremely patient and sympathetic, once they've realised what I've been up against.
In addition to writing apologetic emails to people, I also had to take a van up to Berkshire to collect some stock. It's usually a straightforward journey, but this time my SatNav had a psychotic episode and took me on a terrifying drive along some narrow, snow-bound country lanes. I think it's trying to kill me.
To make things worse, someone had changed the settings so that every traffic direction was given in a Dalek voice. The amusement value of hearing "IN 300 YARDS, TURN LEFT...HUMAN" quickly wore very thin.
Fortunately, I had some CDs of Radio Four podcasts to relieve the tedium of driving along a motorway being shouted at by a Dalek, including a fascinating Desert Island Discs with Jill Balcon - now better known as the mother of Daniel Day Lewis. She was nearly 80 when the programme was recorded, but had the voice and attitude of someone in their 50s, speaking with a great passion and self-effacing humour about her extraordinary life. What a woman.
In truth it was nice to get away from the farm. I have worked in a few unusual places, but never anywhere where it snows indoors. I suppose there must be a hole in the roof, but I can't see where.
Sometimes a robin enters the barn and sings sweetly. Then it ruins everything by defecating on the books and computers. How many people have to wipe bird droppings off their PC monitor and keyboard before they can start work?
The week reached a grand finale yesterday, with a fight between a mink and a rat. The mink seemed to have the upper hand, even though it was barely larger than the rat. Then we made the mistake of getting too close and for a second, the mink lost its grip. The rat quickly ran underneath a table and found a small hole near a pile of boxes. Undeterred, the mink strutted around the barn as if it owned the place, oblivious to the presence of four humans. Eventually it got bored and decided to lie in wait under some wheelie bins.
It was all very odd. At the time, we had no idea that we were looking at a mink, but Google images quickly identified the strange, dark, ferret-like creature:
Next week I will be dealing with a rat infestation, writing some more apologies and getting to grips with a complicated new postal system. At some point I may even have time to look at some books, like this one:
But I wouldn't bank on it.