This morning I was sitting at my desk at work and someone sent me a tree in the post.
Which was a little odd.
I should make it clear that we're not talking fully-grown oak tree here. The postage would have been a little much, for starters. It was a rather cute bonsai something-or-other, in a pot, with a pot stand.
As I took it from its box and threw away the polystyrene packaging, I wondered whether I'd angered some horticultural mafiosi. Perhaps this was an elaborate message of warning and by the weekend I'd be sleeping with the tubers. But no.
It had come from a direct marketing company, touting for business. This was that most elusive of things - a corporate freebie.
I generally don't get much in the way of freebies in my line of work. Brother number 2, he gets the lot. I'm happy with a branded biro, he gets to go to a barbecue with Beyonce. This is a bit of an imbalance.
So I set my tree down on my desk.
I looked at my tree. It looked back at me, inscrutably. I regarded the tag, which had a web address. This took me to a personalised website (well, it had my details and my employer's name on it) which told me about all the wonderful things this direct marketing company could do for me.
At that moment, my phone rang. It was the MD of the direct marketing company, checking that I'd received my tree. This was all very impressive. Apart from one tiny detail. I hardly like to mention it.
I have no idea what direct marketing is. I don't do it. I have no responsibility for it. I couldn't really tell you how it works. I assume it has something to do with pushing trees on innocent bystanders. Although the 'direct' bit probably means actually sending your stuff to the right people.
I was almost embarrassed to mention it to the MD during our conversation, but I thought I'd better. Otherwise, who knows where it would end? I might end up with a forest on my desk at this rate.