My adoptive mother collected a whole series of books for me, on science and geography mainly. I bought How and Why books from the local Newsagency. The books my mother ordered for me were titles like the Nelson Doubleday Around the World series and the Nelson Doubleday science series. She bought Arthur Mee’s children’s encyclopedia. I read them all assiduously and they were the making of my intellectual fortune. I simply knew things that other people didn’t. Event today, ask me the capital of Venezuela and I will say in an instant: Caracas.

My daughter often goes skiing in Bulgaria and to this day I entertain myself by reading the history of Bulgaria and Romania. I can still conduct an intelligent conversation with a Romanian. Also I met a West Papuan Freedom Fighter over the weekend and saw the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. Immediately I sent my oldest daughter’s children books on Papua New Guinea and Canberra. After all I am not going to live forever, so they may as well have them. More to the point I want them to have them.

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