I suppose, in common with many boys, I did not relish reading as a child. Books were there to be endured at school. Comics were there to be enjoyed at home.
My earliest memory of discovering the joy of words, however, is very clear. It came as a lightning bolt revelation in my early years whilst reading stories of Pooh and Piglet and Heffalumps and honey.
I was reading the story where Pooh goes to visit Rabbit. Rabbit was (as always) far too busy to be bothered with Bear and “the more Pooh looked into Rabbit’s hole, the more Rabbit wasn’t there” sprang out at me as being the most supremely clever use of words I had ever come across. Light dawned.
As someone who now uses words to make a living, I have never forgotten the brilliance of that short sentence and still, when listening to speakers who have influenced thousands, even hundreds of thousands, with words of eloquence and power, I am reminded of this simple phrasing that started my appreciation for language.
Milne, A.A. (1926) Winnie the Pooh