The Wonder of Words

I'm preparing for an event this week which is both a great privilege and a big pressure. 

I've become the patron of a charity, Read Easy. They help adults learn to read when they may have spent years hiding their struggles. 

It's a fantastic cause, and I was flattered to be asked to help. 

But! As ever in this strange game called life, there's a but. 

I'm giving a talk about what reading means to me, and it's really made me agonise. 

You'd think it wouldn't be so hard. I give plenty of talks about writing and journalism - this is a shot from an event at the excellent Plymouth High School for Girls. 


But how do I express what reading and words are to me? 

In essence, they've been my whole working life. 25 years of telling stories, whether news or the strange imaginings that pour from my mind. 

They've been a career, but more, so much more. A joy, a delight, thoughts and feelings, a journey, an exploration, both of myself and the world around me. 

And maybe now, writing this blog, I'm getting a sense of what to say at the event. 

But two other important points. 

Firstly, I've been reflecting on the importance of humility (Ok, yes, I can hear you thinking; that's not something which often bothers me - and fair enough.)

But can you imagine what it takes for someone in their fourties, fifties or even older to admit they have a problem with being able to read? And how they find the courage to finally ask for help?

And also, finally, this thought, a favourite of mine - 

It's about all the great glories we take for granted. The ability to read being a very big one. 

Whenever we're in a grump with the world, feeling low and off the pace of life, a little context can be a miracle medicine. 

We've always got words, reading and writing to restore the colour to our worlds. And they are gifts and joys indeed.