That I could read was not in doubt, but how that came about I now have no recollection. The book was called ‘William the Detective’, written by Richmal Crompton who wrote a whole series of books about the adventures of William and his gang of friends, Douglas, Henry and Ginger, who together called themselves ‘The Outlaws’.
I still have the book and even now if I chance to read a page or two, I am struck by the beauty of her writing, her wisdom and her wit. I don’t know what it was about that book, which was an unusual present in our family, but as soon as I opened it and began to read the first page, I was captured by the magic of the written word and my interest thus gained.
I had discovered the key to a world that I would otherwise have never known existed. For me reading was not only infinitely pleasurable, but a window on the world, which to this day is still full of the most wonderful discoveries waiting for me to come upon them.
After that I scarcely had my nose out of a book. I remember some years later when we were being visited at home by my mother’s elder brother, Vic, and his family, I was sitting behind the sofa on the floor reading as usual.
My mother felt this was impolite since we had guests and told me to stop. Her brother, a man of very few words, said quietly, ‘Leave the boy alone. That’s how you learn things, reading.’
How right my Uncle Vic was, bless him.