Each Christmas for the past sixteen years Dr Philip Evans has sent his friends and family a small booklet of ‘wonders and absurdities’ gleaned from many different sources over the year. When he sent the booklets to us they made us laugh so much we decided to publish a selection. The result is A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book, a very personal look at the pleasures and eccentricities of English life from a well-read individual with a keen sense of humour and many decades of observing his fellow men and women in his work as a Suffolk GP.
Together with his wife Christine, Dr Evans makes an annual selection according to a set of unwritten and undisclosed criteria which include ‘delight, surprise, wit, beauty, good sense and absurdity’. There’s certainly plenty of the latter, but Dr Evans – now retired – is a man of many interests, and wine, cricket, poetry, his passion for Chekhov and P. G. Wodehouse, the arcane goings-on of the Church of England, and the bizarre oddities of British politics all feature, along with wise and pithy words on marriage, health and family life. His varied sources include anecdotes from friends, overheard country conversations, letters to editors, correspondence with HMRC, and a rich vein of announcements from parish newsletters. Altogether this is a little book we’d say you can’t do without in these serious and uncertain times. Slip it into a dear one’s Christmas stocking, give it to a friend or even buy it for yourself.