Cast your mind forward two months into the future.
It's Christmas Eve 2008 in the Haywood household. The electricity has been disconnected, and the room feels like the interior of a blast freezer. Snow is whipping dismally against the window-panes. The icy corpses of little birds twinkle in the trees where they have become frozen to the branches. Bob-the-baby is saying goodnight to his mother.
"Will Santa Claus bring me lots of presents tomorrow?" he asks sleepily.
Jennifer decides that it's best to be truthful. "No, Robert, I'm afraid you won't be getting any presents this year."
Bob sighs, and his chronic tuberculosis sends him into a spasm of wheezing. "How about Christmas dinner? Will we be having delicious food?"
"No," confesses his mother. "I'm afraid we can only afford a bowl of sand for Christmas dinner."
"Will it be piping-hot sand?" asks Bob eagerly.
"No, the sand will be completely uncooked, I'm afraid."
Bob-the-baby draws the thin blanket closer to his body. Suddenly he bursts out: "Oh -- why must we all suffer like this at Christmas?"
"Well, Robert," says Jennifer gently. "It's because your daddy didn't make enough money as a journalist this year. It's all his fault."
Yes, dear readers, isn't this sad?
Perhaps you're even thinking to yourself: "If only there was something I could do to help."
Well, happily, there is. Bob's good-for-nothing daddy has written a book:
It's a collection of what might pretentiously be called 'humorous essays' (or, perhaps more accurately, 'strange meanderings'). As a special feature, the book has been designed with soft puppy-like pages -- making it ideal for reading in the lavatory. And it's light-weight enough to be posted as a Christmas present to your friends and enemies all over the world.
Thanks to our fabulous 'see inside' technology, you can even inspect the Table of Contents, where you'll note that many of the pieces have already seen the light of day on Public Address. So it's both a meet-new-friends and invite-old-friends-to-move-permanently-into-your-house type of thing.
The price is NZ$19.95 (plus shipping), and it can be delivered to any country (and even Hamilton). You can use your credit card to order it here. If you're a bookseller, distributor, or librarian, send a message here.
The book is the very first release from Public Address Books (www.publicaddressbooks.com) -- another division of Russell 'Rupert Murdoch' Brown's ever-expanding multimedia empire. Over the coming years Public Address Books will be publishing a number of new works by the Public Address writers (speaking for myself, I've already pre-ordered Jolisa Gracewood's 'Busytown: Knee-high in New York'). You can also use the website to purchase the existing masterpieces of Messrs. Brown, Slack, and Reid.
Pop over and check out the site. And consider buying a copy of 'My First Stabbing' for yourself and everyone you know (and all their relatives). The Haywood family could be eating sand for Christmas dinner otherwise.