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Slightly Foxed Issue 82: From the Editors

It was a bright and windy March day when we finally travelled to Windsor Castle to receive our MBEs. Everything about the occasion was suitably impressive: the sheer scale of the Castle, high on its mound with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside, the height of the guardsman who towered over us in the portico, motionless as a statue, the number of smartly dressed attendants stationed at every turn to help and congratulate (among them, we were pleased to discover, a subscriber to SF), the succession of great portrait-lined rooms through which we all moved. We waited a while in the magnificent Waterloo Chamber, commissioned by George IV to celebrate that victory, and then were led into another stately room where the investitures took place. While a string orchestra from the Royal Corps of Army Music played, the Princess Royal presented us with our decorations and chatted to us about Slightly Foxed (she had been at it all day, we were told, having only touched down from Dubai the night before).

But perhaps the most impressive thing was the range of services rendered by our fellow recipients ‒ services to mountain rescue in the Lake District, to radiography, to the community in Sheffield, to innovation and global technological advancement – all of them people who had contributed in their various ways to making things better, many of them no doubt representing the efforts of a whole group of other people. We certainly agreed afterwards, as we finally kicked off our shoes over a welcome cup of tea, that our MBEs were a cheering recognition not just for us but for everyone who has helped to make Slightly Foxed what it is, not least our readers.

Speaking of recognition, our summer Slightly Foxed Edition, Life in Our Hands by Pamela Bright, certainly puts things into perspective. Writing about it, Brad Bigelow (see p.12) calls it ‘an antidote to self-pity’ and if anyone ever deserved a decoration it was surely its author. She was one of the young and inexperienced nurses attached to a casualty clearing station that had landed in Normandy a week after D-Day and was based just a few miles behind the front line. Working heroically in impossible conditions, she stabilized the wounded for evacuation or comforted them till they died, and she writes of it with a humility and immediacy that come straight from the heart. It’s a haunting book that’s hard to forget.

Just a quick reminder, too, that A Countryman’s Summer Notebook, the third of our seasonal selections from the weekly column Adrian Bell wrote over three decades for the Eastern Daily Press, is now available. These quiet, beautifully observed little pieces are Bell’s celebration of the arrival of summer in the Suffolk countryside that he loved and knew so well.

And finally, dear subscribers, do you have a friend or relative who you’ve always felt would enjoy Slightly Foxed, but who doesn’t yet have a subscription? If so this would be an excellent time to put that right. From now until 31 August we’re offering subscribers a 50 per cent reduction on all new annual gift subscriptions (new, rather than renewed, that is). We do hope that as many of you as possible will take this chance both to give pleasure with a subscription, and also, of course, to spread the word. Just call the office or use the code gift24 on the website. Thanks to your loyalty, we’re keeping our heads above water, but it has to be said that these are testing times, with the cost of just about everything, including paper, printing and postage, rising inexorably. Each new subscription matters to us, and we’ve always found that an enthusiasm for SF shared among friends is the best and most successful way of marketing. Thank you in advance for helping if you can.

 


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