The gift that keeps on giving

You know how it is, you’re in a second-hand bookshop on a Saturday afternoon, indifferently leafing through anything that comes to hand and, for whatever reason, you suddenly fix on something that catches you’re attention. I picked up a copy of Content Provider: Selected Short Prose Pieces 2011-2016(2016, Faber & Faber) by the comedian Stewart Lee and noticed that someone (Nigel) had gifted the book to his friend (Gordon). On the title page it reads:

Gordon, I hope this book gives you lots of laughs. You certainly gave me plenty in hospital! Thank you. Wishing you the very best. Nigel

There’s nothing new about this sort of thing, of course. I have dozens of second-hand books dedicated to all manner of friends, lovers and family on the shelf at home. What makes this book an exception, however, is that it looks like Gordon took the time to respond to his friend. The last page reads:

“A pompous, know all prick is what I say. Self-important, unfunny… I could go on. Gordon. To whom this book was meant as a present. I tried, Nigel. I didn’t get a slight smirk, grin, titter or laugh (you must be joking) out of it so to charity I will go.”

Gordon might not have gotten a laugh out of the book, but I certainly got one from his note.

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