All well and good, I hear you say. That means nothing to me. A book on cats? For crying out loud. Ah yes, but on my bookshelf, this is one big bit of book nostalgia from my early years.
My Father took me to WH Smith a few days before my eighth birthday to choose my own present for starters. Now grown up enough to make choices I wasn't going to waste the opportunity. I perused the aisles of pencil cases, rubbers in the shape of beach balls and colouring pens – those packets with fifty different colours were very popular at the time. Tempting as they were, it was the book aisles that drew me in. I flicked through flimsier titles, joke books, colouring books. But they could not sustain my imagination. I was nearly eight and it was still untamed.
Finally, after a lot of leafing over pages and scouring the shelves there it was, tall and very glossy. At the time it had a cover sleeve with exactly the same photo behind it on the hardback (this has long gone). It had a lot of photographs. I was not about to buy 'War and Peace' just yet. I lifted it up. It was heavy. It was bigger than I’d ever seen before. Four times the size of your average novel. My arms were straining just holding it (there was only one copy, I wasn't putting it down under any circumstances should some other sneaky mitts grab it while I wasn't looking).
This book has so many special memories for me. I have bought and given away so many hundreds of books in my life so far. But this book has never left my home. Just recently I took it down from its safe corner and turned the pages. And immediately the memories came flooding back.
And I know I was eight, as my Father had signed it ‘Happy eighth birthday with love Mum and Dad xxxx'