Today is my son's birthday - hip hip hooray! He arrived three weeks late one hot July evening and his first six months were shaky, but once he'd settled down he became an easy child to deal with, except he wouldn't read. He could read, that was obvious, as he would read his reading books but reading for pleasure was unknown.
What he liked were fishing catalogues. Long car journeys were enlivened by him asking for quizzes. I'd give him a page number, and he'd tell me what was on it. 'Pole rod, telescopic, £48' and so on. That went on for quite a few years. Still no books.
He liked being read to - I have read the whole of Lord of the Rings aloud to him - but he wouldn't read himself. Then one of the booksellers in Waterstones in Salisbury suggested trying this first novel which had just come out in in paperback by someone called JK Rowling. I read chapters 1, 2 and 3, but chapter 4 he did himself, and then we alternated chapters. I was so delighted I bought the second Harry Potter book in hardback, and he read most of that himself.
But he was still a reluctant reader. This continued throughout his school years, and into university. I dedicated my second novel Nice Girls Do to him: "For Nicholas, who lights up my life even if he won't read my writing".
Then, there became a change. He read all of Evelyn Waugh, then Hemingway, then Roth. Dickens - the works. The reluctant reader had become the omniverous reader.
This May, he became an editor at a leading international publishing company. It's ironic that that reluctant reader and writer now makes his living from reading and writing. Blood will out? I don't know, but I learnt 2 things: firstly, JK Rowling deserves every penny she has, and secondly, there's nothing like being handsold a book by a good bookseller.
Happy Birthday, Nick.