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When foraging and being curious goes wrong

Some things found are meant to be left alone.  Uninterrupted and unexplored. This is quite the challenge for a curious forager. I’d like to share a story about a recent adventure involving a bin, a Catherine Cookson (Tilly Trotter) book and alcohol.

It was Saturday night. We just finished a boozy meal at Verge and took a stroll down Sniders Lane in Melbourne. In a socially confused state I approach a bin with a 1980’s style hard back book on it. How could someone throw a book away? Especially one that looked so retro? In a moment of stupor, I took the book and then continued on with our journey. At the time I was chuffed at my find.

The morning after came. Noise, light, smells were magnified and I was hurting . Lying next me was a book. I remembered – my objet d’art, my curious find! On closer inspection the booked  looked abit thicker than I remembered it to be. Wedged inside the book were all sorts of papers and items. Someone else’s life. A cigarette, a bus time table, to-do list, and all sorts of pamphlets in different translations relating to melanoma and mental illness.  My peripheral vision homed in on the book.  The world stopped. My heart skipped a beat. This book was not intended to be thrown away. Perhaps just placed on top of a bin with the intention of being collected again by the owner after a night out. What did I do?

Sunday was spent plotting how I could get the book back to it’s owner. There was someone’s life in that book so surely I could get a lead or two. You’d think.

Monday morning came. I called the number of the library that the book belonged to. It was a disowned book. One of the health related pamphlets had ticks and circled pieces of info.  It was in Serbian.  I took it to my Serbian colleague for a translating session but all it a general pamphlet rather than something indicating a workshop or appointment. I googled the telephone number and it was a number for the hospital. What on earth would I say to the person on the other end of that number? “Hi I have a book that may belong to a future patient of yours…” I think not.

That would have been good penance for me. I decided the owner of the book was a ‘he’.   There was a to-do list and the writing was spidery and masculine. My initial speculations were challenged when I saw the song title “I knew I loved you before I met you” by Savage Garden.  Maybe he was proposing soon! I tried to profile ‘him’. Going by his to-do list he was sporty as he had to move his medals and was moving somewhere. From the bush perhaps as the bus time table was regional. There was a parking ticket for the South Yarra region so he drives. There was an entertainment section torn out of a newspaper for the week. Maybe I should have attended all the functions in hope to finding Mr Tilly Trotter. This would have been penance. I decided that even if we found ourselves in the same function, short of taking to a megaphone and asking if the book belonged to someone my attempt would have been futile. I even entertained the thought of asking a radio station to help me find him.

A point on his to-do list directed my search to a real estate agent. There was a house number and first letter of the street and the name of a property developer which was also a real estate company. I was nervous in calling this company in fear of sounding like a lunatic. Oh what the hell. Mr Trotter needs his book back. The agent was kind. She said that she will contact all of the tenants in that block that the to-do list referred to. She sent a courier to collect it the next day at 10am.

I wrote a note of apology to insert into the book. Three times.  I was in the middle of writing my forth when the courier arrived.  Early. I failed to insert the note.

In true curious forager style I would like to know whether the kind agent managed to find the owner.  I must get around in doing that. But if I’ve learned something it’s that some things are best left alone. If Mr Tilly Trotter you happen to read this, please accept my apologies..I’m sorry.


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