Now, I am well aware that first impressions can be wrong and I am often reminded of that fact when I make a hasty judgement on someone or something only to be proved comprehensively wrong.
But if, as I did today, I open a box to find a souvenir programme from Charles and Diana’s wedding, six books all relating to cats and The Good News Bible and ten Readers’ Digest abridged novels, I know that things were not looking promising.
This box was one of about 17 donated by the same person so my heart was not, dear reader, a-leaping with excitement.
But, bless their hearts, they had gift aided the contribution.
Gift aid means we can get 25% more for each sale, so we like it a lot.
Now the 17 boxes were clearly labelled as gift aided and at the same time there were other donations which weren’t gift aided, all in the same area.
It is, of course, completely unacceptable and against the rules to gift aid a book which is not in the appropriately gift aided box.
But you know, accidents do happen.
I know that the government just wants to help and they have set up the gift aid system to support good charities and I know that people who donate a lot of books are expecting a lot of books to be gift aided.
So, the accidental happenstance of one or two books which are of excellent quality being wrongly gift aided is, in this light, is a happy happenstance, surely.
And you can never tell what is at the bottom of the box.
So, among the royal books ( never a good seller in our bit of Deepest Sussex) and the old Blue Peter annuals ( no doubt one day a valuable book but not in this century) there were a few delights.
An old guide to Egypt, a couple of large old books on the rivers of England, a limited edition of a ghost story which seems to be worth something though I am not sure why, and a Hairy Bikers Pie recipe book which someone will like.
And then there was the man who came in yesterday and carefully handed over to me a pile of postcards dating from about 1970 and who said that he thought someone would undoubtedly buy and treasure them and at the same time put money in Oxfam’s coffers, I didn’t like to disabuse him.