Summer is now in full swing here at Slightly Foxed. The new issue of the quarterly has travelled far and wide to subscribers all over the globe, and whether you too are off to far-flung places this summer, or simply staying at home, we hope you’ll find it good company.
In this month’s newsletter we’re celebrating fathers and grandfathers with Denis Constanduros’s charming memoirs, My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father, published together for the first time as our 20th Slightly Foxed Edition.
These delightfully funny and affectionate portraits of the two most influential male figures in the author’s life conjure up two strongly defined characters and the times in which they lived. The two could hardly have been more different. Denis’s maternal grandfather, though surviving sturdily into the reign of George V, was to his grandson a character from the ‘warm, gas-lit, stable-smelling past’ of the Victorian age and symbolized everything that was convivial and straightforward and reliable. His father Stephanos Constanduros, however, was flamboyant, melodramatic and full of grand ideas for solving his perpetual financial problems at a stroke – a tendency which ultimately led to disaster.
The first of these memoirs paints a beautifully subtle and amusing picture of Grandfather and his household in Kensington Gore, with its visiting aunts and its below-stairs characters. The old man with his feet up before the fire after a day’s hunting; stumping on his short legs through the hushed galleries of the Royal Academy; perusing the obituary columns of The Times; or pouring a glass of what he called ‘sherry wine’ – My Grandfather is much more than an evocation of an endearing yet tough old party. It is a portrait of an age, and has the texture of life itself. Father, Dear Father, Denis’s account of his own childhood, published for the first time with some newly discovered line drawings, catapults us into an entirely different world, full of characters who could have come from one of his aunt Mabel Constanduros’s comedies. Propped up by Grandfather’s largesse in a hideous house in Sutton, this was a household in denial, and no one more so than Denis’s father, with his bookmaker’s bills and money-making schemes. It couldn’t last, and gradually the whole farrago collapsed in a way that was both ludicrous and poignant. My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father were loved by listeners when they were read on Radio 4. It’s easy to see why: they are so fresh, so entertaining and pitch-perfect.
Do read on for an extract from this charming book, and a few suggestions for presents for this coming Father’s Day or, indeed, for any occasion.
Our offer of free gift wrap for Mothering Sunday presents went down rather well back in March, and it seems only fair that the fathers and grandfathers in our lives should receive equally handsome presents, so we’re offering complimentary gift wrap for orders to the value of £20 or more. Please use the code FATHERS on the final page of the checkout. We do recommend ordering before midnight on Sunday for orders to be sent out by Second Class post on Monday in time for 17 June (UK), but we also offer First Class, next day delivery, and email gift cards for any last-minute emergencies.
We spent Friday restocking bookshelves, filling up the packing table with bookmarks and gift cards, wrestling with rolls of brown paper, and twirling great lengths of foxed ribbon in the hopeful anticipation of returning to a flood of gift-wrapping requests on Monday morning. We’ll leave it with you!
With best wishes, as ever Jennie, Anna, Olivia and Hattie
The SF Office Staff