Books and Places
The time: a late June afternoon in the nineteen seventies. The place: Sheffield railway station. I was changing trains there on my way home to the North-east from Leicester university. I was nineteen. I didn’t have much luggage as my trunk had gone on by road (does anyone take a trunk to university these days?). I was sitting in the sun, reading Walter Scott’s WAVERLEY, when a woman sat down next to me. I remember someone a lot older than me, attractive, well-dressed. She asked me if I was reading Walter Scott for pleasure and I explained that I was doing an English degree and it was on next year’s reading list. It was just a fleeting encounter, but there was something about it – the sunny day, the charming woman – that’s anchored it in my memory. Now I live in the Peak District and I often change trains at Sheffield. When it’s sunny, I sometimes think of that day, and feel again the luxurious pleasure of being young with the whole summer holiday ahead.