I can’t remember if my parents read to me at bedtime. If they did, it left not a trace behind. They did, however, pack me off at the age of 13 to a traditional boarding-school where bedtime reading to the new boys’ dormitory was an established ritual undertaken by the duty prefect. By the time I arrived this enlightened custom had degenerated from the originating housemaster’s lofty ideals. Some of the prefects appeared, even to us, as barely literate. One would read two or three pages of whichever book came to hand. The following night his successor would repeat the process with a random extract from a different book. It was barely a system and did not lend itself to continuity. Some read fluently and with feeling. Some read to us in foreign languages, living and dead. It didn’t matter. We adored it. It was a ritual and we were much aggrieved if it was denied. Perhaps that housemaster was wiser than I give him credit for. Perhaps even the prefects benefited.