….. or just Slightly Foxed?
No, it’s nothing to do with cryptic crosswords, but two words that cropped up a couple of weeks ago, and took me to different places.
I found them in a magazine, a column of book reviews you may be surprised to learn. And immediately I was riffling pages, sniffing the air for evidence of a past, good or bad; and I was in any one of numerous second-hand bookshops, browsing stacks and rummaging through piles on the floor. It was not a name I’d come across in publishing before, but there it was before me, and I asked my friend Mr Google to enlighten me a little more.
They’ve been around, for a decade or so, with a catalogue of numbered, limited editions in short print runs, reissues of books that can’t be allowed to be forgotten. Each is beautifully crafted, cloth bound, endpapers and silk and all that stuff. But I don’t want to talk about the books just yet.
For there’s even more exciting to come, from Slightly Foxed. And come it did the other day, tied up in ribbon, with a personal note. The ribbon now rests in the craft box of Urchin the Elder, off out now to take her latest piece, sewing and stuffing and suchlike, to the annual show for judging by the Rural wimmen. But the magazine stays with me.
The word magazine sits uneasily as a description of The Real Reader’s Quarterly, No 35. Within a hundred pages or so there’s items to tease and names to tickle and promises galore. For it is a collection of little vignettes, articles by authors, about books – old and new – and temptations to put on the wish list, long lost friends to revisit.
Already I’ve found Christopher Rush, and his amazing Aunt Epp – ‘As a young woman in the 1890s she’d gone to Paris, got herself pregnant, and come back childless but with a nude painting of herself which still hangs in our house’ – and, aside from him taking me to the world of Thomas Hardy – now there’s one to dip into after a long absence – I’m more thrilled to find that he has a current work in progress, for it has been some time since he travelled hopefully, took us to the East Neuk and entranced us with the writing of Shakespeare’s Will. And so Odysseus goes onto one of my lists. I can’t wait. Rush is a master.
Tarka the Rotter – Williamson and otters, don’t get me back to Maxwell, not yet; Reachfar – remember Jane Duncan and the Miss Boyds on the Black Isle? – even the weans have some of her works, illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick. There’s a couple of Duncan’s classics being republished these days. And Arthur Ransome, still on my list after his long lost work on RLS. Richard Knott takes us to The End of a Baltic Summer, and sailing where Ransome did before, part of his travel works that I found on an Oxfam site months ago but have done nothing about – yet.
And we’re promised Robert Macfarlane next time round. Oh I think I’m going to thoroughly enjoy being slightly foxed every three months. Who knows where it may lead, purchases to make; new writers to read that I’d never have thought of looking at; old works to open again; more bookshelves to find space for. And they’ve a bookshop too, in Old London Town for my rare visits south. Somehow though, from the quality that oozes from every page and every product, I don’t think there’ll be much foxing, slight or otherwise, on those shelves.
Do yourself a favour, dip in. Don’t trouble Mr Google, for you’ll find Slightly Foxed right here.