Dot writes: any Sherlocks out there, kindly put down your cocaine and your violin for long enough to consider this outre little problem. (And please keep to yourselves any conclusions about my character and past drawn from the state of my jeans turn-ups; they are likely to depress me.)
We are, and have been for some time now, attempting to sell our old car. It is a good runner, as they say, and at the cheaper end of the secondhand market in Ireland, but I don’t think Rover inspires much enthusiasm as a brand these days and there hasn’t been much interest. However, three times now we’ve been contacted by people who say they want to buy it straight away at whatever price we are asking. They don’t want to see it, they’ll send someone to collect it, and all they need is our paypal account details so they can transfer the money to us immediately. The second time I got this response I emailed back expressing my surprise, and I was sent an explanation very like the following:
I am ready to buying it now for birthday gift for brother in-law and i am at sea at the moment as i am a marine engineer and due to the nature of my work, phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it. I really want this item to be a surprise for brother in-law so i wont let him know anything about the item until it gets delivered to him, i am sure he will be more than happy with this item. I insisted on paypal because i don’t have access to my bank account online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can pay from my paypal account, as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give me your paypal email address and your paypal full name and the price so i can make the payments asap for the item and pls if you don’t have paypal account yet, it is very easy to set up, go to http://www.paypal.co.uk Web site registration will take only 5 minutes just get back to me as soon as you get back to me registered and get it set up, after you have set it up i will only need the e-mail address you use for registration with paypal so as to put the money through. I have a pick up agent that will come and pick the item up after i have made the payments…
That’s actually a quotation from the third such enquiry (different e-mail address, different marine engineer apparently – engineer number two was buying the present for his son). So why are all these marine engineers so keen to buy surprise cars for their relatives? Is it some strange promotional effort to get us to use paypal? Is there some little-known madness that afflicts men when they have spent slightly too long at sea inhaling boiler fumes that takes the form of suddenly seeing the merits of the Rover 25? What is going on?
I firmly believe that it will turn out to involve one or all of the following: bank robbery; giant dogs; Mormons; a person presumed dead who is actually living in a cavity in the wall. I await your solution.