My earliest ambition was to be a writer - an ambition that never entirely went away. It was nurtured by a love of reading. I owe this to several authors I discovered in childhood and especially Charles Dickens.
I was given his 'A Christmas Carol' when I was about 10 years old. Encouraged by my father, I swiftly moved on through the Dickens novels on the bookshelves at home. By 12 years I had read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers. In my early teens I got through most of the rest - a fact that now astonishes me. I loved Dickens for the same reason that I enjoy serialized TV drama - the cliffhangers. It was these that encouraged me to persevere through some very long sections of descriptive prose. Dickens' novels also opened my mind and heart to social justice issues of his time (and ours) and contributed to my eventually becoming a social worker. But in my younger reading of Dickens, I just enjoyed the stories and the vivid pictures painted by the words.
Here's my current favourite Dickens' quote, but I can't find the source. Can anyone tell me?
"There is nothing better than a friend,
unless it is a friend with chocolate."