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30th June 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 30 June 2020

My admission in an earlier diary that, whereas my husband loves our nearby park, to me it just feels like pretend countryside, produced one shocked email and several hurt comments from local friends. Our contributor Roger Hudson (compiler, too, of An Englishman’s Commonplace Book, which we’ll be publishing in September) told me that he had once felt the same way about Kensington Gardens, but had made a ‘conscious decision to abandon comparison with the real country of his childhood’. He was helped in this, he said, by the facts that parts of Kensington Gardens still felt rather like the parkland of a country seat, so providing a kind of transitional experience, not quite town and not quite country, and he advised me to strike out away from the joggers and dog-walkers into the wilder areas.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
Episode 21: A Bookshelf in Tripoli

Episode 21: A Bookshelf in Tripoli

Justin Marozzi, a travel writer, historian and journalist who’s lived in Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Darfur, joins the Slightly Foxed editors on a journey through North Africa and the Middle East. His discovery of a nineteenth-century account of an expedition to Libya in a bookshop in Tripoli led to his crossing of the Sahara by camel, against the advice of Wilfred Thesiger. From dual chronicles of the desert penned by Rosita Forbes and Ahmed Hassanein Bey and tales of books hurled into the Tigris to the picaresque life of Ibn Battutah and travels with a Tangerine, the conversation ranges far and wide, and there are the usual recommendations for reading off the beaten track too.
40 minutes
23rd June 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 23 June 2020

There was a time when we toyed with the idea of doing a holiday house-swap. Friends and acquaintances returned with exciting accounts of economical summers spent in other people’s houses, and holiday company brochures were full of tempting descriptions and heartfelt praise from customers who had formed lifelong friendships with other families in faraway places, getting to know the local community and going back year after year.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors

The Great Oak Bookshop

35 Great Oak Street Llanidloes Powys SY18 6BW Tel: 01686 412959 www.greatoakbooks.co.uk
Stockists
My Grandfather & Father, Dear Father | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

My Grandfather & Father, Dear Father | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

We’ve been browsing our backlist of cloth-bound classics and thought it timely to open the covers of Denis Constanduros’s charming memoirs, My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father, published together in a handsome Slightly Foxed Edition. These delightfully funny and affectionate portraits of the most influential male figures in the author’s life conjure up two strongly defined characters and the times in which they lived.
16th June 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 16 June 2020

With the latest easing of travel restrictions, there’s a lot of talk of public transport and who should use it, which in London mainly means the tube. When we first moved here in the early 1970s the Victoria Line from Walthamstow to Brixton via Highbury and Islington had only recently been built, and this brought with it the first of the estate agents who arrived to cash in on an area full of elderly residents easily persuaded to move out of their crumbling Georgian and Victorian properties and sell them to people like us.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
Episode 20: An Issue of Enthusiasms

Episode 20: An Issue of Enthusiasms

Slightly Foxed Editors Gail and Hazel take us between the pages of the magazine, bookmarking articles along the way. Crack the spine of the quarterly to discover T. H. White taking flying lessons, smutty book titles, a passion for romantic ruins, John Berger shadowing a remarkable GP, a rebellious Mitford ‘rescued’ by a destroyer, a night to remember on the Titanic and much more besides. From correcting proofs to welcoming writers with a host of experiences, the story of putting together an issue of enthusiasms unfolds. And in this month’s reading from the archives, a hapless apprentice at the Hogarth Press recounts his disastrous stint with the Woolfs.
37 minutes
9th June 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 9 June 2020

On Friday evening I had just settled comfortably into that delicious moment between waking and sleeping when there was a loud crash from the floor above my head. My first thought was that my husband had fallen over something, but since there was no cry for help I decided no action was required. After a moment or two of silence, however, sounds of banging from above began again. My second thought was that my husband might now be unable to speak and was banging on the floor to attract my attention, but he’s a hardy sort, and ashamed as I am to admit it, after only a moment’s hesitation I snuggled down again and pulled the bedclothes over my head.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
Cover Artist: Slightly Foxed Issue 66, Paul Cleden, ‘Boats and Coots’

Cover Artist: Slightly Foxed Issue 66, Paul Cleden, ‘Boats and Coots’

Paul Cleden is an illustrator and printmaker who is especially drawn to figurative movement – the dynamic shapes of cyclists or skiers, rowers or divers, but equally a crowd at rush hour leaving a train or a dance hall crowded with figures. In depicting such scenes his use of linocut allows for beautiful flowing lines and the dramatic overlap of colours. His work can be seen in galleries across the UK and in commissions from, among others, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. For more see his website www.paulcleden.co.uk.
‘What larks!’

‘What larks!’

Essentially it is the story of the friendship between Christopher Robbins, a struggling young freelance journalist, and Brian Desmond Hurst, an ageing Irish film director who had already outlived his talents and gloriously continued to do so up to his death in 1986. For a delicious period of pure fantasy in the mid-1970s the two lived the life of Reilly together. When he first met Hurst the young Robbins was in his late twenties and vainly trying to claw his way out of perpetual debt. The agent of his introduction was an enigmatic American hipster masquerading as a German count whom he’d run into in Spain, and whose expertise was ‘putting people together’.
2nd June 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 2 June 2020

This week we’ve been waking up to some of those blue and gold mornings that in my case bring on thoughts of escape and waves of nostalgia, not for hot exotic places, but for the English beaches that stay in your memory for ever if you were lucky enough to know them as a child. Growing up by the sea in Devon, spending all day on the beach (entirely unsupervised) or out in a fishing boat, I genuinely couldn’t imagine what people who didn’t live by the sea did all day. I adored Arthur Ransome’s books (see SF no. 18) but we weren’t Swallows and Amazons children, sailing and building campfires and being self-sufficient. Those kinds of summers were for the children who holidayed down the coast at posher places like Salcombe. For us the sea and the beach were facts of life, places where people earned their living, but they were magical too.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors

Life among the Ledgers

I am rather fond of the crowd that Dante meets at the very start of his journey into Hell with Virgil. They are all rushing around moaning and shrieking on the edge of the River Acheron, hoping that Charon the ferryman will carry them across. He refuses. When Dante asks who they are Virgil tells him that they are the ‘Futile’, the people who have done nothing in particular with their lives. They are not well-known for anything. They have achieved nothing spectacular either good or bad. They are not allowed into Heaven in case their dullness dims the radiant light of Paradise, and Hell won’t have them either because such an insipid bunch would downgrade the very notion of sinfulness. So they are not allowed passage across the river. They are seen hurrying to assemble under one flag and then fleeing in the opposite direction to assemble under another. They sound like most of us. Anyway, I number myself among them.
SF magazine subscribers only

A Modern Prospero

The Sea, The Sea was Iris Murdoch’s nineteenth novel and the only one to win the Booker Prize (in 1978). It is, to my mind, her best novel, as well as being the most representative of her talents and distinctive world view. It is also hypnotically readable. Actually all her novels are hypnotically readable (with the sad exception of her last, fractured book, Jackson’s Dilemma), but most contain certain faults of excess: passages of over-description, stagey scenes, unrealistic over-intellectualized dialogue, plotting whose artifice is all too obvious. This does not make them less lovable or less intellectually stimulating. Still: you can see the joins. This is not the case with The Sea, The Sea.
SF magazine subscribers only
Keeping up Appearances

Keeping up Appearances

Eve Garnett’s children’s novel was first published in 1937, with her own illustrations. At least eight publishers had rejected it on account of its supposed ‘grittiness’. Here was a story about an urban working-class family that detailed the endless struggles of Mr and Mrs Ruggles – a dustman and a washerwoman – to feed, clothe and shoe their seven children. In fact the book was probably the first ever British children’s book with working-class protagonists. Despite publishers’ initial reluctance, it was an immediate success. Serialized by the BBC in 1939, it won the Library Association’s prestigious Carnegie Medal – beating The Hobbit – and has been in print ever since. In a market saturated with stories about boarding-schools, nannies and improbable Swallows and Amazons-type adventures, parents and children alike warmed to the novelty of the Ruggles.
SF magazine subscribers only

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