We’re sitting here in the office today, looking out at the leaden sky and wondering what next year’s going to be like. It’s rather a ruminative time we find, these last dark months before Christmas. One thing we do know, and that is that we’re extremely fortunate to have such a loyal body of subscribers. Some of you have been with us from the very beginning and have stuck with us ‘through thin and thin’ as the late publisher Anthony Blond once succinctly put it. We’d like you to know how grateful we are for your support – for your enthusiastic letters, encouraging phone calls, for spreading the word about Slightly Foxed – and of course for your renewed subscriptions.
Someone asked us the other day just what we thought it was that readers particularly liked about Slightly Foxed. Though sometimes pressed to do so, we’ve never gone in for market research or reader profiles – SF readers seem to us to be a rather unusual and uncategorizable group of people – but it did make us ponder a bit. If you’ve never directly been in touch with us and have time to drop us a line we’d love to know what it is about Slightly Foxed that appeals – or indeed any other thoughts you may have on the subject.
So, Christmas is nearly here and we do hope you’ll enjoy this winter issue, which comes to you with our very best wishes. Slipped into it you’ll find another of our literary crosswords, designed for those inevitable moments during the festive season when you really can’t think what else to do, and if you can, you’re too exhausted to get up and do it. Entries should reach us no later than 14 January and the first correct one to be drawn out of a hat will receive a free subscription.
And since it’s the season of giving, may we draw your attention to a new non-profit project called ‘Give a Book’, started in memory of the playwright Simon Gray, which we feel is tremendously worthwhile. Through donations it gives new books to specific charities where people might particularly need them, such as Maggie’s Cancer Centres, and it has teamed up with Volunteer Reading Help to give books to children struggling with literacy. Do take a look at the website: www.giveabook.org.uk.
Despite the general gloom, we feel hopeful about the coming year. The Slightly Foxed Editions seem to have found a secure place on many bookshelves and on p.13 you’ll find news of the latest, Look Back with Love, Dodie Smith’s evocative memoir of growing up in Edwardian Manchester at the heart of a large and cheerful extended family. The young Dodie was a strange little creature, given to all kinds of fears and fantasies, but also with a steely determination to be herself. Like the other SFEs, Look Back with Love brings alive a now distant time and its atmosphere in a way no history book can, and we loved it.
We’re also excited about our latest venture – the Slightly Foxed mug. Much tea and coffee is drunk in the office here and, on the lookout for some new mugs, we simply couldn’t find any we really liked at a reasonable price. So we decided to produce one ourselves. Up in the Potteries we found a small firm called Hartley Greens & Co. which, under its original name of The Leeds Pottery, has been producing its distinctive Creamware since 1756. We’re very pleased indeed with the mug they’ve produced for us, and if you are too it will be the first of a series. You’ll find details and a picture in the enclosed leaflet.
And finally we’re pleased to pass on the good news that Tony at our bookshop on Gloucester Road is offering a 10 per cent discount throughout January and February to any subscriber visiting the shop or ordering books by phone or e-mail.