So, spring again, and it seems a good moment to report on what might be called the greening of Slightly Foxed. We’ve always been keen to be green and during the past year we’ve worked hard at it, replacing our plastic-lined padded envelopes with more eco-friendly cardboard packaging and looking into switching our office paper to a more environmentally friendly brand called Cool Earth.
In his wickedly funny book A Boy at the Hogarth Press (now available, by the way, as a Plain Foxed Edition), Richard Kennedy reveals that Leonard Woolf kept a keen eye on the consumption of everything in the Hogarth Press office, including the loo paper. We don’t go quite that far, but needless to say, we make sure what we buy is recycled. In fact we now recycle pretty well everything that’s possible, and our recycling firm sends encouraging reports on how many trees we’ve saved (21 last year). Plastic water bottles are banned in the office and, at a more personal level, Alarys – who has now moved on from SF to greater things – gathers our office shredding as winter bedding for her tortoise, while Olivia saves postage stamps to send to her grandma who collects them for charity.
It’s a drop in the ocean, but it all adds up, and with the world so out of kilter it feels good to be doing something constructive. And, at the risk of being boring, may we mention yet again another small but important thing, which is to try to support small businesses like independent bookshops who employ local people and pay their rates and taxes, rather than greedy giants like Amazon. But we’d better not get started . . .
Last year we thought we’d arrived at a point where there were no more Carey novels left to reissue. So it was very exciting to learn that lying among Ronald Welch’s papers, forgotten for 30 years, was the manuscript of a previously unseen short novel, which we’re now able to publish for the first time.
The Road to Waterloo is every bit as colourful and realistic as the other Carey novels and though not officially part of the series, it fills a significant gap in the family story. The setting is June 1815, Napoleon has recently escaped from Elba and its young hero James Carey, a Cornet in the 30th Light Dragoons and part of Wellington’s great allied army, is patrolling the Franco-Belgian border, on the lookout for the arrival of Napoleon’s troops. James is only 17 and this is his first experience of active service. As always skilfully mixing fact and fiction, Welch gives us a vivid and fascinating picture of the days leading up to the final great battle and of a young soldier’s coming of age. The Road to Waterloo is available to order now, in the same handsome Cubs format and with specially commissioned illustrations by Mark Robinson.
Both in his person and in his writing the adventurous traveller Eric Newby was an unusually elegant man, so perhaps it is not entirely surprising to learn that he began his career in fashion – as an inept post-war trainee at the family firm of Lane & Newby, ‘Mantle Manufacturers and Wholesale Costumiers’. This is the story he tells in Something Wholesale, our latest Slightly Foxed Edition (see p.13). Newby is always at his funniest when at a disadvantage, and his account of his hapless attempts at salesmanship and of the gradual collapse of the tottering family firm is a treat.
And finally, many congratulations to the winner of our ninth crossword competition, Mrs K. J. Meakin, who receives a free annual subscription. For anyone who was stumped, the answers are on p.95.