This was the notice put up in my gym the other day. It was 6.00 pm, a peak time, and the changing room was packed.
I looked around suspiciously, instantly confident that I'd located the thief - a young man, mid-twenties, shaved head, covered in tattoos. When he put on a hoodie, evenlifting the hood up to partially conceal his face, before glaring at me as he left, I knew that was him - the thief.
Caricatures, caricatures, caricatures. As a writer, I recognise the danger. How dull the story would be if this first guess for the thief turned out to be the right one. So much more interesting if it's a close friend, a charming older man, always immaculately dressed, always smiling, and forever offering to buy others cups of tea and coffee or a glass of wine after gym. As a citizen, it's all too easy to pass judgement on people based on first appearances. We mustn't and it can take a tragedy like the Manchester bombing and the heroics of the homeless man to remind us not to....
For me, it's a love/hate relationship with eBooks.
As a reader, my Amazon Kindle works well when I'm travelling - it's light, portable and I can take a small (actually not that small) library with me. Reading in bed is easy too - again the portability is a positive, the soft backlight, and the chance to increase the font size so I don't need to wear glasses is convenient. For all occasions, there's the opportunity for digital bookmarks, highlights and notes, and access to the last read page is immediate. So, as a reader, I should be happy, shouldn't I?
Actually, not completely so. The physicality is lost with an eBook - the affinity with the front cover then flicking over to read the back page blurb, the smell of opening a new book, the texture of the paper. It's so easy to grab an eBook, dump it onto a tablet and then forget about it - far less likely for me to forget I've got or have already read a real (interesting that this is the word that first comes to mind) book.