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Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows | Voices from the Riverbank | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Kenneth Grahame | The Wind in the Willows | From the Slightly Foxed archives

Greetings from Hoxton Square where the skies are grey and it seems that summer might have been and gone in one brief spell. We miss the sunshine pouring in through the windows and find ourselves scouring the bookshelves for reminders of balmy days. And what could be more summery and cheering than heading down to the riverbank and messing about in boats with Ratty and Mole?

Please read on for an extract from Sue Gee’s article from Slightly Foxed Issue No. 74 on Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows together with a link to read the full article on the Slightly Foxed website, and a selection of charming children’s classics to browse at your leisure.

Sue appears on Episode 3 of the Slightly Foxed podcast discussing the art of editing which makes for excellent listening. In addition, this episode features a wonderful reading of another of Sue’s articles published in Slightly Foxed, this time on Beatrix Potter and the darkest of all her stories, The Tale of Mr Tod.

With best wishes, as ever, from the SF office staff
Hattie, Jess & Jemima

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A short extract from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

‘“This has been a wonderful day!” said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. “Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in all my life.”

“What?” cried the Rat, open-mouthed: “Never been in a – you never – well I – what have you been doing, then?”

“Is it so nice as all that?” asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolute nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing – about – in – boats; messing –”

“Look ahead, Rat!” cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

“ – about in boats – or with boats,” the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. “In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. Look here! If you’ve really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?”

The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh of full contentment, and leant back blissfully into the soft cushions. “What a day I’m having!” he said. “Let us start at once!”’

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