Here he is, quoting a drinking companion in the Three Tuns at Welney, who said 'they were all salt of the earth in the Fens and would give you a sack of potatoes as soon as look at you...' Beyond Cambridge, however, 'They wouldn't give you the drippings off the end of their nose.' And a wonderful account of a wildlife training session when small tubs of otter and mink poo were passed around, in the manner of a wine tasting, to be sniffed and described as 'fragrant', with something of the quality of jasmine tea (otter spraint) or a smell like burnt rubber and rotten fish (mink scat). And I bet you didn't know about spraint and scats either.
Another treat arrived last week: the Winter edition of Slightly Foxed. I love Slightly Foxed for so many reasons: it's full of (short) well-written pieces on old, forgotten, quirky, much loved books, as well as ones I've never encountered, and it entirely lives up to its billing as a 'lively, quarterly review for the independent-minded'. They also send you notes on their delightful cards, which then make charming bookmarks - my favourite bookmarks (see some below) being one of the many things that add to the pleasure of reading actual physical books.
|Slightly Foxed (both of us)|
Fashions in novels (and novelists) change almost as fast as Covid variants, and having recently had to complete my Census details and admit to being elderly, white, middle-class and straight - a combination for which, as a writer, I find myself feeling faintly apologetic - I don't expect to be published again. On the other hand, I'm deeply grateful to Slightly Foxed for regularly reminding me of the books that have changed some of us for life, and the many, many more that have simply given pleasure - and will go on doing so, no matter who wrote them.