Have you, my loyal reader, ever heard of the author Richard Bach? I don’t normally do fiction and never do anything vaguely religious or spiritual, and yet and yet. Not for the first time, I am inching back to read Bach’s books which are, admittedly, slightly mad but to this boy utterly compelling. I mention this because of University Challenge.

Before you conclude that I have truly lost my marbles, which is a reasonable point of view, may I add that one of the team captains was called Bobby Seagull. Our Bobby was staggeringly clever and I had not a little man love for him. I hung by his every word. The series ended but Bobby is now a Radio Four presenter. Anyway, Bobby Seagull was named after a seagull and not just any seagull: Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was not alone in the book of his own name by having a name and being able to talk. He was taught by other seagulls to fly and to learn about life. Ludicrous though this seemed at the time – and it probably was ludicrous, I admit – I allowed myself to be sucked in to a world where the unbelievable might be true. A bit like professional wrestling.

Jonathan was not Bach’s first book for he had already written a good few on the wonders of flight. To follow up, he wrote Illusions: the adventures of a reluctant messiah where, whilst flying planes across the corn fields of America, he met a reluctant messiah, a Jesus type character who performed miracles. To this day, it is my favourite book and one I would take to my desert island. That Bach meets up with this messiah, who is called Donald Shimoda who passes to Bach a “messiah’s handbook”, a numberless book which will open at random to provide answers and solutions to whatever happens in life seems the most normal thing in the world. Pure fiction and I believed every word and when I re-read Illusions, I believe it all over again.

A talking seagull, a reluctant messiah; whatever next? You may well ask because his subsequent books were even more off-the-wall and, sadly, less believable. When you need a little inspiration, then reach for Illusions. It isn’t true but you will truly want it to be.