I was born in the late 1950s, when television was in its infancy in West Wales, along with electricity and carpets.
Growing up the only source of rugby news and information, was the radio and more importantly, the written word.
As newspapers fight for survival in an electronic and instant communication environment, for me, nothing replaces the joy of picking up a copy of the Western Mail, The Sunday Times, L’Equipe or god bless it, Rugby World magazine, and sitting down with a coffee to devour the contents of both .
The feel of the paper, the smell , its aromatic integration with coffee and warm bread, or pastries, just cannot be replaced.
From my pal Stephen Jones, back to Bryn Thomas via John Reason, Frank Keating, John Hopkins et al, the game it’s joys and controversies have all been painted on a paper canvas for us all to inhale and digest.
My first love was JBG (Bryn) Thomas, who wrote for the Western Mail, and if the rumours are true picked, trained, and managed, the great Wales team in the 1970s, from the safety of his own typewriter.
JBG was born at an interesting time for the Welsh nation, when it was made law that every first born son had to be given three first names, and henceforth be known by the initials of those names.
This law was repealed after JBG together, with JPR and TGR, made representations at the highest judicial level.
The law was reduced to two initials for a short time, but after the birth of Mr Williams (J J) it was scrapped entirely.
TGR (Gerald Davies) wrote about the game with a poetic elegance that reflected the way he played the game, and his weekly gems published in The Times, were an absolute joy.
But for me Stephen Jones tops he lot, he has been there, done it, done it again, and got more T-shirts than anyone.
You may disagree with what he writes, but his integrity and honesty are beyond question, and you will never get a boring read from Steve.
My bookshelves are adorned with great books, from Stephen, Frank, Peter Jackson, JBG, and many others.
They are a photo album and treasure chest of my life in rugby, and my life of rugby.
It is difficult to pick favourite books, but here are my personal Top Ten in no particular order.
1. Endless Winter Stephen Jones
2. Calon Owen Sheers
3. Fields of Praise Dai Smith/Gareth Williams
4. Great Moments In Rugby Football JBG Thomas
5. The Great Number Tens Frank Keating
6. Who Beat The All Blacks Alun Gibbard
7. My Story John Bentley
8. Nobody Beats Us David Tossell
9. David Watkins An Autobiography
10. Every Single Rothmans Rugby Annual
The true magic of the written word is that it creates inside of us unique personalised images and emotions in a way that no other medium can.
All power to iPads, ebooks, and electronic matchday programmes, but I pray paper versions never becomes extinct, but after all it doesn’t grow on trees you know !
“The true alchemists do not change lead to gold, they change the world into words”