Being able to spend three years in the company of extraordinary characters such as Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins has been more than a privilege, it has helped make me who I am.
I don't binge on authors. I am amazed by people who boast (there can be no other word) that they re-read the complete Dickens once a year. I couldn't do that. I am simply too slow a reader.
Literary festivals are sprouting all over the UK, from Dartington to Althorp. But do visitors roll up for the literature, or the seafood wraps? And why is the whole phenomenon run on shoestring economics, with the writers themselves the last to be paid? Mark McCrum reflects on the festival vogue, and says it may be time for a new touring model.