When my son was much younger, we would snuggle up together on the 'big bed' every evening and read his favourite picture books. I would put on my best silly voices, and he would join in the refrain. It never mattered how tired he was, he would force himself to stay awake for 'just one more'.
This nightly ritual was evocative of a simpler time and place; when it was my sisters and I who curled up under warm blankets whilst my mother perched, book in hand, at the edge of the bed.
By the dim glow of a bedside lamp, my mother's soothing voice would transport us to Narnia, to Asgard, to the hidden garden behind the ivy clad wall. We flew to distant lands with the Phoenix, and climbed sooty chimneys to discover the friendly ghosts of Green Knowe
Sleepy eyed, with teeth fresh brushed and newly bathed bodies pyjama clad; we would clamour for just one more page, one more chapter, not wanting to leave those worlds behind.
It was here, in these moments, that I found my love for words, and the deep satisfying language of well crafted stories.
Now my son is older there is no need for the bed time ritual, as he reads alone deep into the night; books precariously piled beside his bed with spines cracked and pages bent. Often I have to go up and turn out his lamp, feigning annoyance that he is not asleep; whilst secretly thinking how alike we really are ... but the other evening as I was putting fresh linen on my bed, he appeared in the doorway, book in hand, to read to me. It was a gruesome and gory story, beloved of young teens and as befits Hallowe'en; yet as he read, I recognised in the tone and cadence of his words the soothing bedtime story voice we all seem to share........