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From the Editors

1st September 2020

Slightly Foxed Issue 67: From the Editors

There’s a fox’s earth on the cover of this issue, but thanks in large part to you, this Fox has far from gone to earth. We’ve loved receiving your encouraging messages and emails during this difficult year, and you’ve pulled out all the stops with extra purchases, subscriptions and renewals. ‘I read Slightly Foxed in bed with my morning tea as an antidote to the news,’ writes N. Reifler. Now it’s autumn, and we’re happy to say that our publishing programme is up and running, with a great deal to look forward to.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
21st August 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 21 August 2020

It’s true that I’m writing this in Highbury, but mentally I’m in Suffolk. We came back yesterday from a week’s family holiday, and after months of being confined to London and seeing very little of our grandchildren, I’m finding it hard to make the transition. In my mind’s eye I’m still on the harbourside at Walberswick grasping the back of my 7-year-old grandson’s T-shirt as he crouches above the water, his small body tense with excitement as he strains over the edge to see if there’s anything in the net he’s dangling into the murky depths below. ‘Shall I pull it up now?’ ‘Well, wait a little bit, you’ve only just looked.’ ‘But there’s something in it. I know there is. I can see it!’ We peer down. Something seems to be moving, and yes! Oh joy! ‘Granny, it’s a crab! It’s huge. It’s gigantic. Quick, come and look!’
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
24th July 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 24 July 2020

On Sunday afternoon we set out for a walk in what is to me one of the strangest green spaces in this part of London, Abney Park Cemetery. Hidden behind the chic little boutiques and coffee shops of Stoke Newington Church Street, its 30-acre site originally formed part of the grounds of Fleetwood House and Abney House, both built in the 1600s and now demolished, one of which was lived in from 1734 until his death in 1748 by the preacher and hymn writer Isaac Watts.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
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
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
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
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
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
19th May 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 19 May 2020

Every Thursday now at 8 p.m. in London and across the country, we stand on our doorsteps and clap and bang saucepans as a thank-you to the NHS nurses and doctors and all the other workers who put their lives on the line for us every day and night of the week. On 12 May it was, appropriately, International Nurses Day, which is celebrated on Florence Nightingale’s birthday (her 200th this year), and hearing her mentioned on various radio programmes, I took down Cecil Woodham-Smith’s biography, published in 1950, and read the first few chapters.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
12th May 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 12 May 2020

Though I have now just about learned how to make video calls from my smartphone, as mentioned in an earlier diary, the practical and technical challenges of the lockdown continue. A friend emailed me recently with the link to a mask-making tutorial on YouTube. We’re all going to have to wear masks and there are likely to be shortages, so why not start stitching now, she suggested. I could make them in different colours for the whole family, including fun ones for the grandchildren. I watched as deft fingers cut, tacked, sewed and turned bits inside out but couldn’t really make sense of it all and decided to leave it for another day.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
5th May 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 5 May 2020

A highly sensitive translator friend of ours once told us, quite seriously, that he couldn’t read in a room where there were other books. Their presence was too distracting, too powerful. We sniggered rather unkindly at the time, but this week, wandering round the bookshelves and feeling somewhat cut-off and unreal in the dim light of a wet afternoon, I felt acutely the presence of authors I’d once been passionately attached to and hadn’t thought of for a long time, especially the diarists, nestling in the ‘biography’ section in the spare room.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
28th April 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 28 April 2020

When the lockdown first began and we were instructed to leave the house only for an hour’s regular exercise we started going for an early evening walk in our local park. My husband loves Clissold Park. Over the years he’s run round it, watched birds in it, observed the trees in their various seasons, pushed our daughter on the swings, and played football with our grandchildren. He feels sentimental about it, and it is a lovely park. Like a lot of London parks it was once attached to a private house, and that has now become an upmarket café where yummy mummies sit chatting in the sun with their expensive buggies beside them, and media dads queue up for posh ice creams while speaking amusingly on the phone to other media dads.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
21st April 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 21 April 2020

There’s an old Victorian sofa in the bay window of our bedroom that we bought in a junk shop in Norfolk many years ago. It’s pretty battered now, the pale green loose cover is somewhat torn despite my efforts to mend it and some of the springs have gone. It really should be reupholstered but, apart from the expense, I’m unwilling. It feels like an old friend who’s seen me through various periods of my life and I don’t want to change it by giving it a facelift. The ends let down so you can put your feet up, and there’s a nice comfortable depression in the seat where your bottom goes. That’s where I’ve been reading in the afternoons for the past few weeks.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors
10th April 2020

Slightly Foxed Editors’ Diary • 10 April 2020

The room where I work – to call it ‘my study’ sounds too grand somehow and ‘my office’ feels too businesslike – is almost at the top of the house and faces on to the garden. Sitting at my desk I look out into the branches of a giant sycamore where grey squirrels race up and down, but if I stand up I can look down into our own small garden, and the others in the terrace stretching away in a sort of wedge shape, getting longer as they go. In some of them the flowering cherry trees are out (‘loveliest of trees’ as Housman called the woodland cherries), and the big hawthorn at the bottom of our garden, which hides the worst of the red-brick care home over the wall, is just coming into bud. Through the arch in the entrance to the care home I can usually see cars moving along Highbury New Park, but there are almost none today. The schools are open only to the children of front-line workers now, and I can hear the little girls next door calling to one another in the garden.
- Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood
From the editors

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