Dr Evans’ A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book features a succession of anecdotes, letters and stories of unintended double meanings, and was picked up by the independent literary magazine Slightly Foxed to be published in a small print run for subscribers. Demand grew through word of mouth and the title was supplied to selected book shops, making it the latest in a tradition of unexpected seasonal successes.
Philip Rhys Evans’s A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book is also a delight: an apparently random collection of letters to newspapers, quotes, poems, signs and other bits and bobs that Dr Rhys Evans has seen and noted down. How many books have we seen like this that are very slightly more boring than they should be? This one isn’t. Again, there’s no waffle or waste, and I’m encouraged by how many of my own favourite writers (Matthew Engel, Alan Bennett, P.G. Wodehouse) appear in its pages. In fact, I have to admit that I have already stolen something from it for my own next book, which is about cricket. This was a sign Dr Evans saw in Dubai while watching Pakistan play England in the second test match on 17 January 2012: ‘The dress code is very simple. Just keep your clothes on.’