His earliest memory was of a colour, ‘red mostly, but everywhere, and a sense of wind blowing, buffeting, and there was much light’. Together with this was an awareness, an ‘unadulterated sense of self’, which ‘saw as you might with the lens of your eyes removed’. Whether this was actually a memory of his own birth, he is not sure. If so, it was remarkably trouble-free compared to his mother’s experience of the same event. As soon as she had given birth to William Gerald Golding on 19 September 1911 she said to his father, ‘That’ll be all.’
In his next...