Public Library

In my first year at grammar school, aged 11, we had Tuesday afternoons off and school on Saturday mornings. It was then I discovered the local public library on Isaac's Hill. I would cycle there and leave my bike propped up by its pedal against the pavement curb while I spent happy hours inside. The bike was always there when I came out because people didn't use to steal them in those days, at least not where I lived.

The library was a treasure trove, and it was free. It was there I discovered science fiction, and feasted my imagination on Asimov, van Vogt, Clarke and Heinlein. I read through the set of Scarlet Pimpernel and Biggles books, then the Arthur Ransome series about Swallows and Amazons, and later graduated to Tolstoy. Children are serial readers of authors they like, and I was no exception.

There was a reading room upstairs with bound copies of old newspapers and Keesing's Contemporary archives, and I spent hours reading through news coverage of past events such as World War II and the dropping of the atomic bombs. It was a formative experience, the time when I develop a lifelong love of reading, slipping away into a world of my imagination as I turned the pages.