With the House of Commons back it work, memories of Christmas and the New Year celebrations are receding fast. However, there is one consequence of the festive season that needs to be resolved.
The Young family are relatively organised when it comes to lists of who wants what for Christmas. (A list system promotes focussed giving and removes the risk of duplicated and unwanted gifts and is much favoured in households run by economists.)
There was only one thing I really wanted this year, and this was a device that turns photographic negatives (remember them?) into digital images. I reckoned this would be useful because negatives degrade over time; and because it would promote the collocation of all photographs digital and analogue - in a common and indestructible catalogue, suitable for generations of Youngs as yet unborn.
So I put this item on the list and made it clear that, in view of its cost, it would be acceptable for members of the family to form a syndicate and purchase it collectively.
Some discreet enquiries before Christmas revealed that my request had fallen on deaf ears and, whatever Santa would be bringing down the chimney on Christmas Day, a negative scanner with inbuilt software that normalises over-saturated colours would not be in the sack.
So, to avoid disappointment, I ordered it over the internet myself in the days before Christmas.
I was greeted with the following email.
We know that holidays can be stressful and wanted to relieve a portion of that stress by reassuring you that your package should leave our Fulfilment Centre soon. Despite the slight delay, we expect your order to arrive in time for Christmas.
What you and I call a depot has been upgraded to a Fulfilment Centre. Where will this stop? The House of Commons will be a Manifesto Delivery Centre, my tax office a Disposable Income Redistribution Centre, the local District General Hospital a Health Restoration Centre. I digress.
The Fulfilment Centre disgorged my present before Christmas, and it was indeed exactly what I wanted. However, a second disappointment lay ahead. I discovered that, while tidying up the relevant drawers earlier in the year, another member of my household of whom I am very fond had thrown away nearly all the old negatives, leaving just the fading photographs in the yellow Kodak folders. A few had survived the cull, and their contents have been transferred into digital form and captured, labelled and dated for the benefits of future generations. But the machine with the software-based function for removing dust and scratches from treasured images was redundant.
Fortunately I had kept the box and, having tested Amazon, I was now on to eBay. No one would know that the unwanted Christmas present I was disposing of was one that I had bought for myself. As I write this, the auction is under way and a substantial capital write-off will be required when the gift leaves this fulfilment centre on its way to Esskaybee123, whose modest bid leads the field.