Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It seems to me that I don’t write enough about books—which is odd because reading is one of my greatest pleasures, and has been so ever since I was taught reading by a certain Miss Johnston in St.Gerard’s School, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

There is a back-story to how I learned to read. When I was sent to boarding-school at the tender age of five and a few months—way too young, but my mother could not handle me—few people realized my age, and it was generally assumed I was just small but could read. After all, the normal admission age was about eight and a half, and by that age every pupil normally could.

I couldn’t read because I had never been taught. Believe it or not, this lack of such a fundamental academic survival skill was not spotted for about a term (which says a lot about St. Gerards) but then Miss Johnston shrieked and revealed all (about reading).

Actually, she also said I was so cuddly (remember I was only five) that she would love to climb into my bed and hug me—and thereafter I lay there in dread every night, for some time, fearing she would make good on her wish. Eventually someone did climb into my bed, as I lay there petrified, but it was only another boy, all of nine, a habitual sleep-walker who was prone to wander—and, fortunately, he moved on after a few minutes.

Eventually (on another occasion) he wandered out onto the fire escape, fell about fifteen feet onto a compost heap, and I think that cured him. 

But I digress. The point is that Miss Johnson taught me to read and thereafter I was seldom to be found without a book or two at hand. And over 64 years later, I haven't changed.

So aren’t I writing more about books? I think because currently I’m reading some very serious stuff and haven’t yet reached the stage where I want to comment. As with a python, I take the process of digestion seriously so take my time.

But I do wish to bring Barry Eisler to your attention, He has an excellent and very generous web site at and is well worth your attention. He writes good escapist stuff—and was a former CIA operative.



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