News from Slightly Foxed: An entire anthology of smells
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An entire anthology of smells . . .

For readers in search of something bookish to give to a father this coming 19 June, we can highly recommend our beautifully bound Slightly Foxed Edition of The High Path. In this prizewinning memoir Ted Walker recreates with unusual vividness his secure, happy childhood in the England of the Thirties and Forties, and the influences that made a working-class boy into a poet.

Most telling, perhaps, was his relationship with his father, a carpenter who had come to the Sussex coast from Birmingham in search of work before Ted’s birth. The affection between the two shines out from the tender portrait of him, cruising the last mile home from work on his Ariel motorbike, playing backyard cricket with typical concentration, or struggling to master French with Ted, urged on by their lovably eccentric teacher Mr Jupp.

A sense of history came from magical visits to his father’s family in the Worcestershire countryside, and sensuous pleasure from the grocer’s shop managed by ‘Grandad Harry’ – an Aladdin’s Cave where ‘a wondrous blend of smells: nutmeg and cinnamon, dog biscuits and bran, wax polish, ripe cheese and Brasso all harmonised to give a sense of good things kept in spotless order’. It is a picture of a proud and thrifty working-class world now utterly lost.

With grammar school and a place at university a gap began to open between Ted and his parents. These new experiences brought intellectual confusion, romantic longing and sexual frustration, but the warmth of his happy childhood was still his bedrock. The High Path is a beautiful book, written with all the honesty and sensitivity of the poet Ted Walker became.

All Father’s Day presents will be wrapped in brown paper, tied up with foxed ribbon, and sent with a hand-written card bearing a handsome wood engraving and a message of your choice. Please read on for an extract from The High Path and a selection of other present ideas.

Ted Walker
The High Path

When he came home of an evening, we went through an unchanging ritual. Hanging on the gate, I could tell the shape of him as he cruised the last half-mile along the Brighton Road on the Ariel. Just our side of Chandler’s Corner he would switch off the petrol for the sake of economy and freewheel silently the rest of the way, having judged his impetus so exactly that the merest touch of the brakes would halt him after the front wheel bumped over the kerb. The bike would be wheeled into the outhouse, suddenly full of the stirring odour of hot oil and the clicking of cooling metal. And then, in the kitchen, even had I been blindfolded, I could have recognised him; for he brought into the house an entire anthology of smells I associated with nobody else: the hair-oil smell of his cap; the open-road gustiness of his flapping coat; and then the redolence of his trade: sawdust and shavings of pitch-pine and mahogany, a toolbag rankness of nailsacks and creosote, carpenter’s pencil and linseed oil. With water scaldingly hot from the kettle on the hob, straight away he would wash his hands as methodically as a surgeon; and then I would nuzzle at his own essential fragrances – sweat and Nut-Brown shag at the nape of his neck – when he carried me through to the living-room table. Here his dinner would be waiting for him (my mother and I would already have had ours) and I would watch him, cat-like, eat every mouthful.

Meat was dissected into exact squares. Potatoes, if boiled, became cubes – once the unsatisfactory sloping surfaces had been trimmed and disposed of, the way tree trunks are squared off in a sawmill. Potatoes, if mashed, were fashioned with the blade of the knife into a rectangular block into which, between stabs at the meat, the fork made geometrical inroads. Untidy peas, forever spilling beyond their appointed boundaries like a tipped load of ballast, were corralled into a sector of the plate apart and were always eaten last.

Sometimes, smiling, he would relax his concentration and, glancing at me across the disciplined exactitudes of his meal, favour me with a forkful which tasted vastly more appetising than my normal, amorphous, food. When the peas had been individually pronged until they were all gone, all was not yet done. Every last smear of gravy or bacon grease would have to be scraped from the plate’s surface (the blade bending in his strong hand like a palette knife or the thinnest of a set of feeler-gauges); and then a swab of bread would scrub from the outer rim gradually inwards, in diminishing concentric circles, until the awkward bull’s eye could be lifted with a deft, backhand flourish. With a reserved inch of crust he scoured between the prongs of the fork and along the back edge of the knife. The cutlery was then laid precisely over the plate’s diameter, perpendicularly to the line of the table where he sat. Ultimate breadcrumbs were sought out from the folds of the tablecloth by the magnetic tip of his middle finger.

Pudding was always to be a challenge to his craft, on account of the inherent intractability of the medium and the inadequacy of the tools available to make it submit to his will. Without the allies of knife-blade or bread, he could not but leave behind squiggles of custard – no matter that he held his bowl at an angle which (mathematicians could prove) afforded the maximum potential efficiency, given the bluntness and curvature of the common household spoon. If the source of my tendency towards woozy romanticism may be traced to the exuberant chaos of my mother’s sewing drawer, then my regard for orderly technique and craftsmanship of form stems from observing my father eat.

If it were pay-day, there then followed the ceremony of dividing his week’s  wages between the battery of tins which he kept on his bookshelves. (The tins were watched over by a sepia photograph of Paul Muni as ‘Scarface’ which my mother had torn from some magazine and pinned to the back of the door.) One by one, my father brought them to the table and lined them up in a neat platoon: tobacco tins, cocoa tins, puncture repair outfit tins; each one in its tight stricture of inner-tube rubber bands, each one a talisman against the worry of debts, indigence, dispossession, the final disgrace of being beholden to anyone in the matter of hard cash. My mother accepted her housekeeping money from him, counting it at a swift glance: out of it she would have to pay the rent to my grandfather upstairs. Then the rest was distributed, the first tin receiving a heavy half-crown only to yield up three sixpences destined for its neighbours. Some tins took only coppers; one, taller, square-sided, propitiously labelled, only ten-shilling notes. Every conceivable future outgoing – insurance (a shilling a week to the Ideal Benefit Society), pension fund, tool money, clothes, road tax, wireless licence, books (a couple of bob) – was provided for. Into his pocket went enough for his week’s petrol and tobacco; and still there was a little left over for his savings.

There was one tin more, whose function I was not to know about until years later. This was the fund for my Start-In-Life â€“ in all probability a set of tools for whatever trade I might take up: not necessarily the carpenter’s trade, either, for my grandfather, before becoming a policeman, had been a bricklayer; and so had my great-grandfather been, when there was still work enough for jobbing masons in rural Worcestershire. My mother’s purse clicked shut, the tins were returned to the darkness and to Paul Muni’s custodianship. And then, while my mother washed up, and until the freshly filled kettle began to sing, he would sip from his mug of dark-oak tea; and he would roll and smoke, in two minutes of evident relish, his good husbandman’s reward of the most emaciated cigarette his horn fingertips could fashion: the paper must have made three entire encirclings of the pinch of shag he drew out to a wisp.

‘Go and fetch my pretty shoes,’ he would command, as he took off his working boots. His brown-and-white brogues, such as you would see on a golf course, were beautiful objects to my eyes, with feather patterns and whorls worked with myriad pin-pricks and dimples into the uppers. My jersey covered with fluff, I would bring them from under his bed and lay them at his feet.

In the kitchen he honed his safety razor on a strop by now worn down to about the length and shape of a puppy’s tongue. Somehow he managed to take a grip on its tip between finger and thumb of his left hand while his right hand whizzed up and down with the blurred speed of a fly in a jam-jar. Off would come a layer of wool and a flannel shirt; and then – how his white vest sagged, not touching his chest as he bent to the sink and into his clouds of steam! While he pumiced and scrubbed, while he performed the ten thousand millimetre strokes of his shaving, while he dabbed and swabbed all the visible and outlying territories of his public skin, he told me new facts, quizzed me on the facts of the previous day, related stories, asked me about my day – all the time tilting his chin at improbable angles that later, in bed, I would imitate. I no longer remember the actual substance of these early catechisms, narrations, disquisitions; but for certain they were of huge importance to me, arousing my curiosity in the world beyond our hedges and providing me with a remarkable store of general knowledge long before I started school. A year or so later, I do remember, I was tested on the capitals of all the countries in the world. By then, the convention had grown that I should try to stump him if I could. ‘Colombia?’ he would say. â€˜Bogota,’ I would reply, following swiftly with, ‘Venezuela?’ There would be a brief, artificial pause while he swilled his balding shaving-brush. â€˜Caracas,’ he would lob at me, chuckling at the funny sound of the place and because, as usual, I had not been able to catch him out.
Extract from The High Path
© Ted Walker 
All Father’s Day presents will be sent wrapped in brown paper and tied up with our signature ribbon, together with a hand-written gift card bearing a handsome wood engraving.
Ted Walker
The High Path

Last copies remaining.

From £16

Delightful to look at, pocket-sized and elegantly produced on good cream paper, our paperbacks make handsome presents. A set includes ten titles.

Set from £100
Single titles from £11

The perfect introduction to a world of good reading, the summer bundle includes a set of last year’s back issues (Nos. 45-48), four issues for 2016 and two smart grey slipcases to keep them all in.

From Â£85

‘You have been tempting us successfully for years with wonderful books with words. Now you are tempting us with books without words, your beautiful notebooks
are . . . well, beautiful.’
P. Turner, London

From £12

The first of these memoirs paints a beautifully subtle and amusing picture of Grandfather and his household in Kensington Gore, with its visiting aunts and its below-stairs characters. The old man with his feet up before the fire after a day’s hunting; stumping on his short legs through the hushed galleries of the Royal Academy; perusing the obituary columns of The Times; or pouring a glass of what he called ‘sherry wine’ . . . Father, Dear Father, Denis’s account of his own childhood, published for the first time with some newly discovered line drawings, catapults us into an entirely different world, full of characters who could have come from one of his aunt Mabel Constanduros’s comedies. Propped up by Grandfather’s largesse in a hideous house in Sutton, this was a household in denial, and no one more so than Denis’s father, with his bookmaker’s bills and money-making schemes. It couldn’t last, and gradually the whole farrago collapsed in a way that was both ludicrous and poignant. My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father were loved by listeners when they were read on Radio 4. It’s easy to see why: they are so fresh, so entertaining and pitch-perfect.

From Â£16

A selection of books featured in Slightly Foxed is now available to buy on our website.

In addition to those titles currently listed we can order in many other books, so if there’s something you’re looking for, do get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

Ronald Welch
The Carey Novels

Take an adventure though British history from the Crusades to the First World War with the Carey Novels. These rip-roaring historical novels are not just for children - many readers have been collecting them for themselves! 

A set of 12 hand-numbered limited edition Carey Novels would make a handsome and generous gift for Fathers Day - perfect for solo armchair adventures or for reading with children.

The first ten books in the series will be dispatched for Father’s Day, followed by the last two when they’re published in September. 

Set from Â£180
Single titles from £16

 â€˜I was delighted to discover you were republishing the Carey series of books, second hand copies trade for considerable sums. Simply marvellous – took me back 35 years or more. Words cannot express how pleased I am to see these books published. I’ll certainly be ordering the set.’ G. Welsh
A Bundle of SF Editions

These sturdy and beautiful little cloth-bound hardbacks are designed to fit snugly into a handbag or pocket. You’ll probably want to carry them around because, without exception, they’re compulsive reads – classic memoirs that have now been given a new life as Slightly Foxed Editions.

Buy any four SF Editions and save £1 per book.

From £60 for 4
Our readers write . . .
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Left hand glass of vintage port
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‘As you can see from my member number I have been with you both for a very long time. This is, of course, because I love Slightly Foxed, passing on the news to my friends. I have also enjoyed your reprints enormously, many of them old companions. I bought the earlier ones as they came out. My set is complete with numbers 1-13, thereafter a blank, so I would like to catch up with your 18 volume set. All of these will keep me reading happily through my dotage. I am very glad that your bright venture has worked out so well.’ C. Hooper, Hertfordshire

Summer Dispatch Dates

The summer issue 2016 of Slightly Foxed was published on 1 June. UK subscribers should have received their copies by 1 June. Overseas subscribers should receive their copies by 18 June.

Those UK readers who are on an automatic order for the limited editions each quarter should have received their copy of Slightly Foxed Edition No. 34: John Moore, Brensham Village by 1 June. Overseas subscribers should receive theirs by 18 June.

Please note that the books are dispatched directly from the office and your copy is unlikely to arrive on the same day as your new issue of Slightly Foxed, which is dispatched by our printers, Smith Settle.

If these dates have passed and you haven’t received your new issue or book, please get in touch with Olivia Wilson (020 7033 0258;

NB There are no new Carey Novels this quarter. The last two will be published in September.

The Digital Fox

If you are a current print subscriber to Slightly Foxed you can now access the digital edition and full archive for free.
All you need is your membership number. This is printed on the address label for anything we send you by post and on all other correspondence from the office. 

 If you don’t know your membership number, please send Katy an email and she’ll send a note of your number to you next week.

News from Books
Unbound Festival

Hammersmith-based Godolphin & Latymer School is holding its first ever community book festival on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June.

Over the weekend there’ll be sessions for all types of book lovers - whether their literary interests lie in war or wasabi, Shakespeare or Shoreditch. Authors on the programme include Blue Peter’s Janet Ellis talking about her debut novel The Butcher’s Hook;  Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous on “Me, My Selfie and I: Living Up to our Online Identities” and journalist Ben Judah exploring our capital city in This is London. The entertainment continues with a Saturday Night Book Jam – an evening of music from Emma McGrath and comedy from Chris Martin, Eshaan Akbar, Damian Clark and Glenn Moore. This new event will raise money for local charity Doorstep Library, for literacy initiatives in local state primary school Lena Gardens and also for the school’s Bursary Fund. 

For more information please visit:

From our friends at
Delayed Gratification

Sign up to Delayed Gratification and get your first issue free. Delayed Gratification is the world’s first Slow Journalism magazine. It’s a beautiful printed quarterly publication which revisits the events of the previous three months to see what happened after the dust settled and the news agenda moved on. The magazine boasts fascinating long-form journalism from some of the world’s best writers, alongside glorious infographics and photography, and original cover art.
Slightly Foxed newsletter subscribers now get the first issue of Delayed Gratification for free when they take out an annual subscription. To claim your free issue, visit: and use the promotional code FOXED when you sign up.
For the full range of all things Slightly Foxed, please visit our online emporium:
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