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News of the death of horror writer James Herbert this week dug up some half-buried memories of my schooldays.

Some of my classmates slouched around reading The Rats or The Fog. The English teacher would groan audibly when he saw what was engrossing them, picking up the offending items and asking their possessors to find more wholesomely literary material (ideally with no sex scenes).

These books, generally the preserve of the too-cool-for-school crowd, were passed around the cognoscenti like prized football stickers. I never read one myself, but soon after I left the school I found out from my Dad that he had worked closely with Herbert when they had been advertising agency colleagues.

If only I’d mentioned this connection with the writer to my fellow eleven year olds, my stock at the time would have risen enormously. #missedopportunity, as they say on Twitter.

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