I subscribe to one of those ‘wine clubs’ where every three months they deliver you a box of a dozen assorted bottles of wine: six red, six white. The club is good and it features wines from the various vineyard areas of Australia like Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Mudgee and so forth. The boxes arrive with tasting notes and other information about the wines. I like the idea – it gets me tasting wines that I might not otherwise buy in a shop and I’ve found a number of really good vineyards this way.

The boxes are delivered via courier, but since I’ve been in my new abode, not one has ever actually managed to arrive on my doorstep. Instead, each time a delivery is due I’ve been left one of those notes from the courier company saying that there was a problem with delivery and I would need to pick up the shipment personally from their depot.

On the courier’s note, under ‘Reason Unable to Deliver’ has always been scrawled the same explanation:

The Reason

For Pete’s sake! This courier must be the only person on the planet to fall for the old beware-of-the-dog-sign ploy. Unbelievable. Burglars from here to Timbuktu superstitiously avoid houses that don’t have that sign.

Anyway, this morning I happen to glance out the living room window across the front garden and see the following two things happen:

1. A hand poke through the gate and experimentally wobble the latch, then withdraw.

2. Nothing else.

Puzzled, I open the front door and go out into the yard (our tall fence obscures the street so I can’t see anything outside). All is silent.

“Hello?” I call, craning my head over the fence. Well, you all know what I’m seeing: a courier van and a guy with a box of wine. He’s loading it back into the truck.

“Is that for me?” I ask, rhetorically.

He gives a little start. It turns out, apparently to his surprise, that it is! He stands there with the box, looking a little embarrassed. He glances at the sign on the gate and then back at me. There’s a slightly-too-long pause.

“You don’t have a dog, do you?”

“No,” I say.

“It’s just that I saw the sign and I thought…”

“Oh, that!” I laugh. “Well, that’s only there because they didn’t have a sign that says “Beware Of The Cat”!

“Hahahaha!” he says. “Hahaha! Right-o, so I’ll be perfectly safe to bring the deliveries in then!”

“Of course,” I say. “Perfectly safe”.

Watching, always watching...