polished floor as she hurried about her task, always humming some tune of her own devising. The three would sit under a single gas mantle to eat and talk about their day. The pots washed, Eric would climb up onto Richard’s knee by the fire while Kitty sewed or mended or darned, to wait for the story to begin. There was always a story and it was always different to any story told before.

When Richard’s brothers came on Sundays there were even more stories, but these were real and terrifying to young Eric, for all had served in the Boer War and all had a tale to tell of how they were "a foot away from t'fella that got 'is head blown clean off" or "missed me vital organs by no more 'n' 'arf an inch.'' But the day always ended the same way, with a few bottles of beer and a small gathering of men, wives and children, seated cross-legged on the floor while Richard unfolded from his imagination and laid before them a tale of dragons or sea monsters or flying horses in some exotic land far from the smoke-filled skies of heavy industrial Leeds.

Of all the gifts a boy of ten could have been given in those early years of the twentieth century, a boy who would grow into one of the most accomplished story tellers of his generation, one who would create one the most enduring stories of all time, this was it – lessons at the knee of a master craftsman in the art of story-telling, lessons that would never leave him. But this was a two-way street - Eric was encouraged to invent his own tales: "What’s tha med up today, Eric