And hooray for all the librarians who run libraries, and look after the books, and the book lovers and the reading groups and everyone else, even the people who've wandered in by accident.
And hooray for all the books in all the libraries. It makes me furious when people speak of libraries as if they were luxuries. They are escape routes. Escape from lives that are boring or predictable, escape from lives that are limited and conventional, escape from lives that - for whatever reason - lack alternatives.
I escaped to other worlds where I could be someone other than a fat, bookish child. Every Saturday I pedalled to the library on the bike my father had fished out of a ditch. I had a basket on the front, and I filled that with library books every week - I had my own, children's card, and both my parents' adult cards - so I was entitled to 24 books to devour at a time.
I read and read and read. Anything, everything. My favourite children's books were about a ballerina called Drina, my favourite adult books were Westerns - I was so disappointed when I saw the film Destry Rides Again: my first experience of how the adaptation doesn't live up to the beloved book and fantasy (Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny - just the name was impossibly exotic, and you got to take something out from the Z shelf.)
Reading is the breathing in, and writing is the breathing out. If I hadn't read so much as a child, I wouldn't be a writer (this seems to be true for many - all? - writers). Without libraries I wouldn't be a writer, and you wouldn't be reading this.
So hooray for libraries, especially the lovely new one at Patchway and hooray for librarians, especially Emma and Carol who invited me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.