Margaret and I attended a Twelfth Night party tonight that culminated in a very baroque gift blind exchange (I think they were making up the rules as they went along). I was in the tactically advantageous position of picking last; according to some of the rules, I might trade the unopened package behind Door Number Three for one of the opened packages I saw that other guests had opened. Although several guests had opened extremely interesting packages, Margaret made it very clear that I was to select the unopened package, thereby ending the game.
She was clearing her throat at me emphatically because when her turn came halfway through, she had used her choice to scoop up two vast hot-drink mugs (each holds about a hogshead of coffee or tea). She feared that if I selected one of the other gifts — the chirping cardinal, for instance, or the china flying pig — the other guest would invoke some hitherto-secret rule to extract the mugs from her. I don’t see how that would work, but I try to do as Margaret tells me, so I took the unopened package.
The package turned out to contain a book, No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life, by Heather Menzies. Looks interesting, and apposite — but I don’t know when I’d manage to read it. . . .