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Slightly Foxed Issue 22: From the Editors

The Slightly Foxed office hasn’t changed much over the years, apart from the fact that, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s got more crowded, what with the increasing number of back issues and the new Slightly Foxed Editions. This is of course especially true when we’ve just had a delivery from our printers, Smith Settle, which arrives via their driver, Brian, who sets off from Yorkshire in the dark hours and arrives in London in time for an early cup of tea.

There have been a few technical advances however – the latest of which is the folding machine, which has now joined the franking machine as part of our own small industrial revolution. It’s a wonderfully basic kind of thing – no electronics – that clanks away rather in the manner of Arkwright’s spinning jenny (an adjective that could well be applied to our very own Jennie, who gets more done in an office day than you could ever imagine). But it folds all the reminder letters perfectly and saves us an immense number of woman hours.

Perhaps the most interesting addition to the office arrived in April in the shape of a mischievous, inquisitive and generally delightful cocker spaniel puppy called Chudleigh (because he didn’t come from there). We have had to remove a lot of boxes and parcels from the floor, and barricade the computers, but we hope that in time he’ll stop chewing everything in sight.

Our Christmas competition was inspired by Frances Wood’s piece in the Winter issue on her strategic use of book titles to convey particular messages, and we invited you to submit your own favourite titles for particularly trying situations. We’ve been hard put to it to choose, but we’ve finally plumped for Mr Bate’s choice of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces as an appropriate comment on our present economic plight. A copy of Ronald Searle’s personal guide to book-collecting, Slightly Foxed – but still desirable, will shortly be on its way to him with our congratulations.

Now summer has crept up on us again – at least we hope it has – and we can think of no more soothing or enjoyable holiday reading than the latest of the Slightly Foxed Editions, Corduroy by the writer Adrian Bell, one of the classic accounts of English country life. Filled with the most precise yet poetic descriptions of the author’s apprenticeship on a Suffolk farm during the 1920s, it was a book, his son the former MP Martin Bell tells us, that many soldiers took with them to the battlegrounds of the Second World War, to remind them of the world of peace and sanity they had left behind.

And on the subject of books, we’re pleased to tell you that we’re reprinting Ghost Writer, the first of the ‘Christmas Foxes’ – the little mini-originals – which we published in 2005. For those of you who missed it, it is the intriguing true story of the Arabic manuscript of Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, told via its ghost-writer, Tim Mackintosh-Smith. An unusual spine-chiller that redefines the meaning of a talking book, at £5 it makes a perfect small gift.

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