I do not remember now when I discovered the joys of being a member of the British Council. It must have been late in my high school years, or when I was a freshman in college.

At that time, the British Council was located in New Manila, a mere 5 minute jeepney ride from our house. For a small fee, I was allowed to borrow four books from their library, and keep them for a month. To me, that singular priviledge was a great treasure.

The Philippines, you must remember, is a developng nation and does not have any real public library system. And books were expensive for this student on a monthly allowance. It was the British Council that filled my immense need for books, and I spent many many happy hours in that place.

As an added bonus, the British Council had books that were not easily found in Manila's typically US-centric bookstores. It was there that I discovered the joy of reading the likes of Terry Pratchett and Iain Banks.

I have learned much from the books at the British Council, many of which I wouldn't have been able to read without that wonderful place. And so I am forever grateful. I do not know if there is a British Council in every place the UK has diplomatic relations with, but I do know that there is a British Council in both Singapore and Hong Kong. If there's one near where you live, go and visit. It may just be worth you while.