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A Taste of Slightly Foxed: Issue 58 & The Blue Field

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The combination of the Summer issue of SF and our latest limited-edition clothbound hardback makes an ideal introduction to the world of Slightly Foxed.

Slightly Foxed Issue 58

In this issue: Helen MacEwan is touched by the life of William Cowper • Christopher Rush finds much to be gained from Paradise Lost • Maggie Fergusson talks travel with Colin Thubron • Andy Merrills has a brush with some beards • Ann Kennedy Smith meets E. M. Forster’s great-aunt • Ariane Bankes explores Trieste with Jan Morris • Robin Blake recommends some spiritual reading • Sarah Perry gets to the roots of Englishness • Patrick Welland witnesses power struggles in Ancient Rome • Julie Welch joins the Pony Club and much more besides . . .

John Moore, The Blue Field

‘I am going to tell you the story of a man of Brensham who was so wild and intractable and turbulent that he failed, in the end, to come to terms with our orderly world.’ And so The Blue Field, the last in John Moore’s trilogy of rural life in England, shifts the focus from town and village to a single farm and the life of its owner: William Hart.

Hart is a master wagon-maker, reveller and brewer of parsnip wine; a steadfast defender of small liberties; a self-professed descendant of Shakespeare who grows the finest Brussels sprouts in England. And he’s the man responsible for the field of linseed, grown in defiance of the War Agricultural Executive Committee, which flowers one summer morning on Brensham Hill. In the first volume of the trilogy, Portrait of Elmbury (SFE no. 26), Moore draws a vivid picture of growing up in an English country town when rural society was still self-sufficient. Brensham Village (SFE no. 34) is set in the 1930s, with change creeping in. The Blue Field brings us up to 1948, with the aftermath of the war signalling the end of this very particular way of rural life. In the touching, and often hilarious, stories of William Hart’s wild and intractable nature, Moore captures a very English sense of resistance and resilience. The old ways don’t go without a good deal of fuss.

Hart might well be the last of a dying breed, but there is nothing sentimental about Moore’s treatment of him. There are lusty summer evenings among the hedgerows, of course, but there are also frostbitten days bent double in the sprout fields. The prose is lively and quick-witted, with the glint of humour and pride that one might expect from an old local telling stories in the Horse and Harrow, Brensham’s raucous pub. The Blue Field shows us the richly textured world of which Moore was immensely fond: people with ‘poetry in their hearts and dreams in their heads – and, for much of the time, what feels like half the West Midlands on their boots’.

Cover Artist: Issue 58, Debbie George, Forget me not

Debbie George has been a painter for over twenty years. Her work is a celebration of her passion for flowers and the objects with which she surrounds herself. She finds inspiration in many forms,...

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