There are very few stories I read again and again but Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is one of them. It is one of those instant pathways to my own childhood Christmases. My father, who never read any other book and who worked long hours, came home on Christmas Eve with just two things on his agenda. The first was to carry the previous Christmas’s empties to the off-licence and trade them for a few beers and a bottle of egg flip to add a bit of oomph to my mother’s lemonade. I went with him, partly to remind him to buy crisps and partly because he was very good company. He could do all the Goon Show voices, plus several others of his own invention.