I grew up in a house with no television, but I don’t ascribe my life-long love of books to any lack of visual entertainment. The house did have a couple of radios, one of which was in my bedroom. Where my own children revelled in the adventures of Captain Kirk in Star Trek, I revelled in the exploits of Jet Morgan in Journey Into Space. Where my kids enjoyed the range of nineteen seventies and eighties television programmes, I enjoyed the golden years of nineteen fifties radio. No, my love-affair with books wasn’t anything to do with the existence or lack of competing entertainments. Books appealed to me because they were immensely personal, far more so than any radio programme.
When I read a story I was there with the key character to a far greater extent that I was with any radio character (or, in later years, with any television character). The authors of the books I read as a child had the ability to penetrate my brain to the point where I was actually with the Walker children on Wildcat Island, I was with Bunter at Greyfriars School, I was with J C T Jennings at Linbury Court, I was with Bunkle on his adventures. I think it was that experience of taking a journey to another place inside my mind that gave me that lifelong love of books. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that the stories I read actually coloured my way of thinking and behaviour in my early life. Books went a long way towards making me what I am.