I’m in love with a girl called Alice, but don’t know what to do about it. Asking her out is impossible. Whenever I’m near her, my vocal cords tighten up so much I can’t form a single, intelligible word. Besides, she’s been going out with a guy named Guy for the past two years and doesn’t realize we’re meant to be together.

I read in a magazine once that the Bible can be used to help a person plan his life. Bibliomancy they call it – ask a question, let the book fall open and point at one of the pages in the hope you’ll see something of relevance. It seems as good a way as any to make a decision. Not the Bible, though. For someone who doesn’t believe in God it doesn’t seem right.

My eyes move along the books on my shelves – Dumas, Poe, Orczy, Dinesen – settling finally on a collection of fairy-tales. It’s the perfect choice – thick with a hardback cover that readily parts. I pick it up, settle myself in the wing-backed chair by the window – crimson upholstered with a recurring Fleur-de-Lys motif – and stand it on its spine between my thighs. It feels like a significant moment in my life, so I speak my question loudly and clearly – “How do I win the heart of my darling Alice?”

I lift away my hands and the book opens at the story of Rapunzel. Without looking, I point at one of the passages. It turns out to be the part where the sorceress locks the heroine in a tower. A smile plays across my lips. It isn’t the suggestion I was expecting, but I’m willing to go along with it.

I put the book back on the shelf and hurry down to my shed. If I’m going to be a kidnapper, I’ll need some rope.