I posted the following short story in The Guardian blog on 21st December 2012:One Christmas, a relative once gave me an exquisitely wrapped present. It was a box and when I opened it and pulled out the delicate tissue paper I discovered that I was holding in my hand an eagle's foot. The foot, for it was the lower part of a leg with talons on the end, was mounted on a small mahogany plinth and the talons held a round crystal ball. All I could say was "Oh!" and it was probably one of the only times in my life that I have been totally lost for words.
My next reaction was to put the thing down on the coffee table as soon as I could and the ensuing silence probably said more than any words. I shuddered with the sensation of still feeling it within my hand but I couldn't take my eyes from it.
Pretty soon, an attempt at an explanation followed: "Well I know you like unusual things and when I saw it at an antique fair, I thought immediately of you!"
Needless to say, the present was disposed of by the end of Boxing Day, having a suitably tactful display on the coffee table before being moved to a far shelf and left there until it met its fate.
For my birthday in March, I then received a set of finely crafted matador knives complete with red tassels and I was totally dumbfounded. They soon met a similar fate to the eagles foot but the limits to my polite acquiescence had been sorely tested. The same relative now gives me a box of smellies or gloves.