Shakespeare in the garden.
My father taught me to read using Tolkien.
As a start to this blog, that is, I think, the most powerful statement I can make. About the sort of person I am, the sort of parent my father was, and about the sort of expectations that were put on me from a young age.
I don’t remember those early readings – apparently my father started the second my eyes began to focus – but I do know that from the age of three or four I could read. And not just read, I could comprehend what I was reading, and I could read upside down.
I honestly think my love of reading and above average intelligence was fostered and encouraged by my father reading me those beautiful books as soon as I could look at a page. But as I said, I don’t remember.
What I do remember is sitting in the garden, on my dads knee, the sun in my hair and the world smelling hot and dusty, as me and my father read the parts in Shakespeare. Macbeth, I think. I can’t have been more than five.
This was a horrible neighbourhood. When we moved there, our welcome was the neighbourhood kids burning down our hedge. It was full of adults and children with no hope, no chances. Poverty choking all the joy from life.
And my father read me Shakespeare in the garden.
As we read, children gathered round us. They’d never seen this, a father reading to his daughter. Imagine it. Never been read to, never seen this simple sign of love. They joined in.
I remember it being fun.
As an adult, I think of it in the light of… hope. Maybe one of these kids got the joy of literature. Maybe they learned in class. Maybe they got out.
I hope so.