At the age of six, one of the first books I ever read were sexy Gothic comics that my mum hid in a drawer beside the lounge coffee table.
Don't get me wrong, I liked my weekly delivery of the Mickey Mouse magazine with its latest goss on Walt Disney animated features, its princess character stickers and glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent gimmicks (can you tell I grew up in the early 80s?). But as a six year old, I was more titillated by images of lesbian vampires flaunting their moonlit breasts under black silk capes and preying on unsuspecting blonde damsels in laced corsets.
One day, as I slinked past the coffee table and slid a couple of comics back inside their secret drawer, my dad spotted me. He was shocked. Determined to put a stop to this debauchery, he scorned my mum.
"Did you see what Laura just did? Don't you realise she's reading those comics? You'll have to hide them somewhere else next time..."
I shot my mum a nervous look. I really didn't mind getting into trouble. But if she hid these books, all the pleasures of my little six year world would vanish...Did I mention I read those comics deep under my bed sheets, with the aid of a torch? (I tried to use a phosphorescent boomerang for lighting but it just didn't give off enough lux...or photons, as I discovered years later during an engineering course.)
So I watched my mum, terrified of her reaction. Would she get mad? Would she become one of those she-devils I had seen her become during her legendary fits of temper and whose nemesis I sought in my Gothic comics?
It was the strangest thing. My mum did not blink. I think she just shrugged her shoulders, ignored my dad's protests and continued to read.
I owe her that I think.