With all the hype they get, one might think that farmers’ markets are a new thing. That might be the case in terms of finding a few rashers of organic beech-smoked, thick-cut, rare breed bacon in deepest central London, but in the extract this month Adrian Bell takes us on a tour of the sort of farmers’ market that’s been going for centuries. In October we featured an autumnal extract from our paperback edition of Corduroy. It’s been such a popular reissue that we thought we’d share a second seasonal piece, together with a short excerpt of Christian Tyler’s foreword to the book. Adrian writes of a day in April that is ‘like a summer breath’, which seems rather optimistic as we sit here still wrapped in a hundredweight of woollies and shivering over cups of tea, but for the moment we’ll have to make do with mere thoughts of a proper spring.
With their sprightly mood and thronging crowds, it appears that literary festivals are not too dissimilar to Adrian’s description of the farmers’ market. We’ve yet to see the book traders ‘wield codfish and gesture magnificently with frying-pans’, although it could be effective in the battle with Amazon. In any case, we’ve just returned from a lovely spot at the Oxford Literary Festival, and we’ve got plenty of other events and festival outings planned for the brighter months. But first, off we go to market . . .