Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On the Edge

This time last week, I was congratulating myself on a month of healthy book sales. At last, it looked as if my business had recovered from the two months I'd lost to illness, earlier in the year. Little did I know that within days, it would all go horribly wrong.

I won't bore you with a lengthy account. The short answer is that my courier company decided to shut down my account, as a business that trades from the same farm as me owes them a lot of money. I have always paid my bills on time, but they wouldn't budge:

"Please be advised that as a business we are not totally convinced that there isn't a link between your company and ********."

I offered to provide evidence that I was a completely separate business, but their reply more or less said that they had neither the time nor the inclination to look into it.

I looked at the sackfuls of uncollected orders and wondered what I was going to do. An internet business can go down very quickly if its orders aren't fulfilled in time. Waiting until an account with a new courier was set up wasn't an option.

In the end, I took the only sensible option available: I bought an awful lot of stamps.

It has been a challenging few days, but I have taken my inspiration from a pot outside a neighbouring unit, where people throw their cigarette ends:

Like the weed, perhaps I will triumph over adversity. It would be good to find a courier that, like Steve Austin, is better, stronger and faster. One that doesn't routinely lose parcels and delivers promptly to the time-conscious Germans.

When things are difficult at work, I usually look forward to going home, but for the last few weeks our house has been taken over by two psychotic male kittens, pictured below:

(I should point out that the second kitten is not actually locked in the stove, but is merely reflected in the glass)

We have taken to hiding upstairs behind closed doors, while they demolish sofas, disconnect telephone cables and sit on our modem until it overheats. I'm not sure if getting two cats was a good idea.

On Saturday evening they became so manic, we ended up fleeing to the safety of Brighton beach, for a fish and chip supper.

On the subject of Brighton, I saw these beautiful magic lantern slides in Hove Museum yesterday. I was trying to explain to my younger son how miraculous they must have been in a world without cinema or television. He seemed to enjoy them as much as I did.

My older son remains in his room. He hasn't been out for nine months, apart from a few medical appointments and a trip to his grandmother's. My wife is very good and never loses hope, but I have felt mine slip away and feel desperately sad that he has lost a large part of his childhood.

Perhaps I need to distract myself with a hobby. I often find old guides to various pastimes, but this book, which I found last week, would probably only lead to more trouble:


BLaCKouT said...

Please forgive the potentially silly question, but what's your online store's website address?

It feels like I should be staring at a link to it somewhere on the page but can't seem to see it :p

helenalex said...

If you want to get your son out of his room, you could try putting the cats in there. :)

Pam Parks said...

What a terrible time. I have one kitten aged 10 months and he is bad on his own. Can't imagine two of him but aren't they beautiful when asleep.
Hope you get the courier problem sorted and your son exits his room soon.

Dale said...

Sounds like your cats may be bored and seeking challenges and diversion.
Have they got a rope scratching post? Cat perch? Plenty of toys? Cats like to be occupied, except when they are asleep.
Toys need not be elaborate - our cat is fondest of a ball of wool and the ties I cut off our kitchen seat covers. Both are things that roll or can be flipped up into the air. A catnip mouse and a rattly ball work wonders, if you want to buy them presents. Also a carton to hide in.
Tie a toy to a door handle - a dangling fur spider on a piece of elastic kept our puss occupied for days, without requiring any hands-on activity from us.

Lotsa luck in your courier search. They are a mixed blessing at the best of times.

MikeP said...

Pillocks - I'm sure you'll be better off without them. Better check your credit record though, just in case...

Still, silver lining time - the lowest price wanted for The Girl-Watcher's Guide on ABE is £65. The Nicolas Bentley effect, presumably.

I too would like to know your web address, although I shan't be buying much till I get back from Oz. The second-hand book business is depressing here - termites, ants, damp, heat, all wreak havoc but have no apparent effect on prices.

Steerforth said...

Blackout - I have a pretty awful website, but 99% of my sales are through Amazon, AbeBooks, Alibris etc. I trade as Steerforth Books.

helenalex - I've tried, believe me.

Pam - They are lovely when they're asleep and the beauty of having two is seeing the way they snuggle up together, paws wrapped around each other.

Dale - We have a scratching post, catnip mouse, several balls, three empty cardboard boxes, spider on a string, another one on a stick and various other distractions, but the kittens can't distnguish between a pet toy or a telephone and the whole house is one big playground.

I'm having their testes removed today, which should calm them down a bit.

Mike - I was surprised when I saw how much the book was selling for, although I suspect that someone's just trying it on. Mine's been on sale for a week now at a better price and no-one's beating the doors down. The website address is, but as I said above, it's an appalling, cheap site. I only paid £130 to set it up. It shows.

Martin Hodges said...

I don't want to get into clouds and silver linings re kittens and son situation, but on the courier front things will turn out fine, I'm sure.

Canadian Chickadee said...

I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. Do hope things improve soon, on all fronts. Sending love and hugs to you and your wife, xoxox Carol

Steerforth said...

Martin - I'm sure you're right. I've discovered just how many companies there are offering attractive rates and better service.

Carol - Thanks for your good wishes. Luckily, a day of manic weighing packages and sticking stamps has brought me back up to date and my customers are now getting their books even sooner than usual.

BLaCKouT said...

Smashing, just bookmarked your Amazon store for a proper browse this weekend, thanks for that :)

milton said...

By the way, would you by any chance have a copy of Simone de Beauvoir's "Prime of Life" in stock?

milton said...

By the way, perhaps you have a copy of Simone de Beauvoir's "Prime of Life" in stock?

Steerforth said...

No, I'm afraid not. Sorry,

zmkc said...

Is it any comfort at all that almost all children now appear to waste most of their childhoods locked in their bedrooms, usually staring into screens, manipulated by other people's fantasies. That pot plant is a wonderfully shabby emblem of something or other. thank you for yet again making me laugh

Steerforth said...

Zoe - I suppose I should take comfort in that. It's been suggested that the falling crime rate is partly due to young males spending most of their spare time playing online games, rather than vandalising a telephone box.

The youth of today *sigh*...