Tucked away on this shelf, which holds some of my old and antiquarian collection, is a humble (and not at all valuable) book. Despite that, it is one of my most precious.
This, as far as I know, was my very first book. It is made of cotton fabric which is now frayed, stained and with faded colours. It would have been published around the time I was born, in the late 1960s.
It's not just the fact that it was my first book, in what would become a lifetime of collecting them; it holds a very dear, early memory.
I can remember being very small - a toddler - and sitting with my mum while she read every page out loud to me, in one of the two cheap rooms that my parents rented at the time. And that one particular memory is that every time we we got to this page...
...she would read it in a certain way - 'isn't he a clever dog', emphasizing the 'clever'. I have very few photographs of my mum, but I can still just about hear the echo of her voice, from those long ago days, reading that one, simple line in such a way that I would never forget it.
Although my parents were poor, they knew the value of reading and I was encouraged to read and look at pictures almost as soon as I could walk. And even though I was to lose my mother and father when I was still a child, I will always be grateful for the gift of reading, of being read to, and for that very special memory.