Welcome to Part Six of the latest audio entertainment in our series Tales for Our Time. For this summer season of a most bizarre year, I've opted for a contemporary inversion of Anthony Hope's Ruritanian classic The Prisoner of Zenda. Mark Steyn Club member CrossBorderGal (who presumably is doing rather less border-crossing in this age of lockdown) enjoyed the kick-off:
What a listening feast this will prove to be! The first episode was nothing short of a current event/urban vernacular 100-metre dash! I could barely keep up with all the 21st century vocabulary, newly minted acronyms and goofy new identity genres, not to mention the thinly veiled allusions to personalities and institutions in the real world. Thank you for bringing us a tale reflecting your nimble mind, extraordinary prose and inimitable delivery.
Thank you, CBG. We left things last night with a comatose prime minister, and a penniless Ruritanian agreeing to step in for a quickie parade from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square. In tonight's episode of The Prisoner of Windsor, Rudy wakes up to find it's all a gotten bit more complicated:
I slid into the prime ministerial chair, stared at the handsome silver candlestick and put my elbows on the brown baize.
'Baize': There's a word I hadn't used in a while.
Have you ever found yourself chairing a cabinet meeting of a country you don't live in and whose senior government figures are entirely unknown to you? If so, you'll appreciate my predicament.
The reference Rudy Elphberg makes to a painting over the cabinet-room fireplace is a copy of Jean-Baptiste van Loo's portrait of Sir Robert Walpole, the de facto first prime minister for over two decades (1721-42) and later the Earl of Orford. Rudy doesn't know that ...but he's alert enough to know what he doesn't know.
Across most of the world apart from party-town Wuhan, there are still no shows, films, concerts, sporting events... So, unless you dig rioting and rampaging in Portland or New York, there's not much to do of an evening. That being so, we hope you'll be back here tomorrow for Part Seven of The Prisoner of Windsor. You can listen to our tale episodically twenty minutes before you lower your lamp, or save it up for an almighty binge-listen on a long car journey as you flee your looted downtown.
If you're minded to join us in The Mark Steyn Club, you're more than welcome. You can find more information here. And, if you have a chum you think might enjoy Tales for Our Time (so far, we've covered Conan Doyle, Baroness Orczy, Dickens, Forster, Conrad, Kipling, Kafka, Gogol, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson and more), we've introduced a special Gift Membership that lets you sign up a pal for the Steyn Club. You'll find more details here. Oh, and don't forget, over at the Steyn store, our Steynamite Special Offers on books, CDs, and much more.