It was 2010, late July. Mid-afternoon on a crisp but very cold day. Pale sunshine tiptoed across the carpet and onto the bed on which I lay, ill with a severe flu. I subconsciously felt the sun's friendliness on my feet as I finished the third volume of The Lord of the Rings.
That night she lay next to me, heavily pregnant. The baby, a girl, was born a few days later, overdue a week.
The funny thing is, a few months ago in late summer, and now all grown up at nine, she had finished all of the Famous Five, some 1960s horsey girls books by upper class British writers (Pullein-Thompson sisters etc) and a million of those children’s large-print faux-novels in which the author varies the text point size for emphasis, or prints them in capitals of a different font, or puts words like 'fart' or 'bum' in the title.
And she was looking for something else to read. Browsing my shelves, she pulled down a copy of The Hobbit.
Will I like it? she asked me.
I don't know, try it and see, I said.
She read it in a few days.
Are there any more? she asked, vaguely. I handed her The Fellowship of the Ring. She took it. That would have been early autumn.
A few weeks later, she asked for the next one. I gave her The Two Towers. More time went by, and winter was starting to wrap its icy fingers around us, and I gave her The Return of the King.
She finished it the other day, a decade after I had closed the book with her beside me, yet to born.
She will turn ten on Sunday. Some kind of strange, wonderful quirk of time. Or maybe just a simple coincidence.
Alert readers will note that I've gone from criticising literary snootiness in one post, to indulging in it myself in the very next. Either publishing has deteriorated ... or I'm a hypocrite.
After finishing The Lord of the Rings, she asked me if I had anything else by Tolkien. I looked for the copy of Farmer Giles of Ham that I'd borrowed from St Bernard's College library in 1974. After 45 years someone asks for it and I can't find it. (I'd dipped into The Silmarillion once but didn't proceed with it.)
No italics - having trouble with the Blogger control panel.