A book has been returned to Paisley’s Central Library – more than 50 years late.
Staff were stunned when the postman delivered a large white padded bag and when opened, they discovered a copy of the book, Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery, along with a £20 note and an anonymous letter apologising for the book being so long overdue.
The book is thought to have been loaned out around 1968 from the Central Library, in Paisley’s High Street. But since this was so long ago and before records were digitised, there is now no way of knowing who had borrowed it.
The letter accompanying the returned book, published by Mills and Boon in 1965, said: “Please accept my apologies for the late return of this book.
“Enclosed is a token payment in recognition of this oversight. Thank you.”
The £20 is now going to be donated to charity, as Renfrewshire Libraries is currently not charging a fine for the return of overdue books.
Mrs Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab in 1912 and became an internationally renowned chef, cookery teacher and cookbook author.
Her Mrs Balbir’s Singh’s Indian Cookery book was met with much acclaim when it was first published in London, in 1961 and went on to inspire future generations of Indian chefs and home cooks.
The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and several editions with revisions, and recipe additions were printed in the following years. Mrs Balbir Singh died in 1994.
Linda Flynn, Paisley Central Library Team Supervisor said: “I was more than a little surprised when I opened the padded envelope and saw what was inside.
“It’s rare to have a book returned after being overdue for so many years. I suspect the book had been lying in a cupboard or a drawer for some time and was only recently discovered.
“It was a lovely gesture from whoever found the book to take the time to send it back with a £20 note as a token gesture for it being so long overdue. We’ll make sure the money goes to a good cause.”
Linda added: “You could see that the book had been well used and some of the marks on the pages suggested that someone had followed the recipes to make a good few dinners.
“Unfortunately, the book isn’t in a condition to put back on our shelves for people to borrow, but since it’s become a talking point among library staff, we’ll keep it in a safe place.”