Each Christmas for the past sixteen years Dr Philip Evans has sent his friends and family a small booklet of ‘wonders and absurdities’ gleaned from many different sources over the year. When he sent the booklets to us they made us laugh so much we decided to publish a selection. The result is A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book, a very personal look at the pleasures and eccentricities of English life from a well-read individual with a keen sense of humour and many decades of observing his fellow men and women in his work as a Suffolk GP.
Together with his wife Christine, Dr Evans makes an annual selection according to a set of unwritten and undisclosed criteria which include ‘delight, surprise, wit, beauty, good sense and absurdity’. There’s certainly plenty of the latter, but Dr Evans – now retired – is a man of many interests, and wine, cricket, poetry, his passion for Chekhov and P. G. Wodehouse, the arcane goings-on of the Church of England, and the bizarre oddities of British politics all feature, along with wise and pithy words on marriage, health and family life. His varied sources include anecdotes from friends, overheard country conversations, letters to editors, correspondence with HMRC, and a rich vein of announcements from parish newsletters. Altogether this is a little book we’d say you can’t do without in these serious and uncertain times.
Please read the newsletter below for an introduction and a few other choice snippets. We will be raising a glass to the Commonplace Book and other Autumn publications on 4 October at The Book Room of Leaping Hare Country Store near Bury St Edmonds. We very much hope that those of you who are local (or would welcome an excuse to visit Suffolk) will be able to join us. Further details may be found below or on the website here: Autumn Launch.
In other news, the Autumn issue of Slightly Foxed should have reached most of you by now (save our readers in India who we are sorry to say seem to experience several weeks’ delay due to bemusing customs rules and regulations each quarter). We very much hope that you’re all enjoying it, wherever in the world you are.
From the heft of the post bags that have been leaving No. 53 these past few weeks, it seems that many of you have already been inspired to renew your subscription, catch up with the new Edition and Cub or order books that were featured in the issue of the quarterly (The Long-Winded Lady has taken an early lead). Others have been catching up with back issues, stocking up on slipcases, notebooks and bags for the new term, and some of you have even requested enormous quantities of Christmas cards and bookplates to keep you busy on those long dark evenings that will soon be upon us. For all of which we are, as ever, hugely grateful.
And with that, we send you our great thanks and best wishes from behind a mountain of boxes, and shall leave you in the hands of our Country Doctor.
The office staff
Hattie, Anna, Olivia, Jennie and Helen
– and the office dogs, Chudleigh, Stanley and Tarka who are currently in residence at Hoxton Square, as those of you who’ve recently phoned the office may have heard . . .