There’s an invigorating sharpness in the air now, that frosty tang that brings with it thoughts of country walks, winter fires, evenings with a good book, the possibilities of a new term. And with that, we can’t resist straightaway mentioning Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School by Ysenda Maxtone Graham, the latest of our Slightly Foxed Editions (see p. 12), and possibly the funniest we’ve published so far.
It came to us serendipitously, this story of a small and distinctly eccentric prep school in South Kensington, founded in 1934 by a Catholic convert called Richard Tibbits, and still going strong today. ‘John Betjeman used to say that he had never laughed so much as during the year in which he was the cricket master at a small private school,’ writes A. N. Wilson in his introduction, and laughter – and affection – are certainly the keynotes of this unusual ‘history’. Like many of the best books, Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School is not easily classifiable. But for anyone who has enjoyed Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall or Ronald Searle’s St Trinian’s, this gloriously entertaining book, which holds up a mirror to the changing middle-class world of the twentieth century, will be a treat.
While on the subject of education (though we don’t like to think of Slightly Foxed as ‘educational’, just pure pleasure), we’re happy to announce a new special offer – a reduced annual UK subscription of £26 for anyone who is 26 or under. We don’t usually go in for special deals, but this seemed to us a special cause. Because, if it doesn’t sound too pretentious, we do see SF, and the feeling about books and reading that it engenders, as something to be passed on to the next generation; an enjoyment (rather like Radio 4 perhaps) that people tend to grow into as they grow up. So if you know of any young person who might appreciate a subscription – a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, a grandchild or godchild – and who you’d like to introduce to Slightly Foxed, do ring the office (020 7549 2121) or visit our website www.foxedquarterly.com.
And speaking of orders, just a reminder that Tony and the staff at the bookshop (020 7370 3503) are always ready to order or seek out any book that takes your fancy in Slightly Foxed, whether it’s in print or not. The shop’s winter catalogue will be out soon, by the way. We’re sending it only to those who have specifically requested it. This was the reply we received from one subscriber:
You asked us to let you know if we wished to continue receiving your twice-yearly catalogue. We do, please – it’s a delight and a perfect complement to SF. Earlier today I happened to be reading the chapter on Booksellers’ Catalogues in Rose Macaulay’s Personal Pleasures: ‘To read these catalogues is like drinking wine in the middle of the morning; it elevates one into that state of felicitous intoxication in which one feels capable of anything.’ Exactly!
Finally, we’re delighted that tickets to our Reader’s Day in London on Saturday, 19 November, have been going like hotcakes since we announced it in the last issue. The Art Workers’ Guild in Queen Square has space for only 100, so if you’re thinking of coming to hear – among others – Penelope Lively, Sue Gee, Daisy Hay and Juliet Gardiner, and to sample contributor Frances Donnelly’s homemade cakes, do call the office now as we have only a handful of tickets left. See you there, we hope!