I went to London the night before last to a reception for Booked Up authors, agents, librarians and organisers. It was across the way from the old Guardian newspaper building on Farringdon Road. It was very enjoyable.
I have to say again what an honour it is to be chosen for Booked Up and what a brilliant scheme it is. It is a pleasure to be associated with such a wonderfully notion - that each child starting secondary education should get a free book. So simple, and yet so powerful a statement.
It may not seem such a big idea if you are lucky enough to come from a household in which books are loved and respected and where reading for the sheer hell of it is a natural part of every day life. But many, many children do not come from such households.
Many children in this country live in households where no one reads for pleasure, either because they come from a disadvantaged background, or because they are part of a family that does not see the merit in reading for pleasure.
It used to be a British trait to boast about how much better everything was here than everywhere else. It now seems to be a national trait to say how bad we are at everything - and with some justification.
But Booked Up, Bookstart and Booktrust itself are things that we should be very, very proud of. It is going to come under attack because it costs money and it is a relatively easy cut to make. Unless you are a parent with children of the appropriate age or a teacher or librarian, you may be oblivious to the scheme and unsure of its merits.
But it must be defended - along with our libraries and librarians, art galleries and theatres. When money is tight, we need to decide as a country what is most important. Literature is not a luxury, it is a cultural necessity.