This fortieth issue is a very special one for us. It marks the beginning of our anniversary year – ten years since we came up with the idea for Slightly Foxed and tentatively put together our first issue. They’re years in which we’ve got to know some of the most likeable and entertaining people – both subscribers and contributors – enjoyed some of the best laughs, been introduced to some of the best books, and had some of the most varied (and sometimes eccentric) experiences. During those years children have married and grandchildren have been born, Slightly Foxed has grown, and we’ve been joined by some exceptionally nice, clever and hardworking young members of staff. We can only say thank you to the Fox and to all of you who’ve supported us for giving us some of the happiest years of our working lives.
Of course we’re going to celebrate – first of all with a party in Bloomsbury on 24 February. We wish we could invite you all, but that would be a cast of thousands, so instead we’ll be offering ten tickets, each of which will admit one subscriber and a guest. The successful names will be drawn out of a hat on 14 January. If you’d like to be included in the draw, do give us a ring. We also wanted to mark the anniversary in a way that would help a good cause, so in the spring we’ll be publishing a very unusual little book to raise money for a charity which is close to our hearts. We won’t say more now but will give you the details in March when it’s available.
Another good cause certainly worth supporting is cancer research. This year a group of distinguished actors including Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins, Sam West and Penelope Wilton have got together to raise funds for Cancer Research UK – which depends entirely on donations to carry out its work – with a CD called Given for Christmas. Recorded in St Paul’s and Westminster Cathedrals, it includes Christmas readings of poetry and prose, both religious and secular. It’s available from the Slightly Foxed bookshop (020 7370 3503, www.foxedbooks.com) and costs £9.99.
As Christmas approaches it’s all go in the office here with gift orders and subscriptions, and Jennie, Anna, Faith, Aimi (who comes in from the shop once a week to do the accounts), Chudleigh and the rest of us are dodging round a positive fortress of heavy brown paper parcels in the middle of the floor. These contain the first three Slightly Foxed Cubs – Knight Crusader, The Galleon and For the King – and Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece, the latest of the Slightly Foxed Editions. This enchanting account of growing up in Victorian Cambridge at the heart of the large and idiosyncratic Darwin clan must be one of the best-loved books in the English language, and it’s hard to think of anyone with an interest in people and a sense of humour who wouldn’t enjoy it. Details of Period Piece and all our other publications are included in the leaflet slipped into this issue, as is our fifth literary crossword.
And finally, a cheering thought. Recently The Times reported research which showed that ‘people who engage in mentally stimulating activity such as reading, or even visiting libraries at any point in their life’, have a slower rate of decline when they reach old age. Perhaps common sense might have told us this already, but it’s good to know that it’s now official. The new up-to-date Index to Slightly Foxed included with this issue is a reminder, if one is needed, that there are plenty of good books and interesting writers still left to read. It comes with our very best wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a more optimistic New Year.