We continue our voyage through the bizarre fantastical kingdom of contemporary Britain in our latest Tale for Our Time: my inversion of The Prisoner of Zenda, Anthony Hope's runaway bestseller of Ruritanian machinations from 1894.
In tonight's episode, Rudy Elphberg, covering for a kidnapped Rob Rassendyll, is dissatisfied with the poky attic bedroom he's relegated to at Chequers:
I indicated my accommodations. "Sad. The Prime Minister exiled by his wife to the maid's room. You know what the staff have codenamed it? The 'Prison Room'."
"Everyone calls it the Prison Room. Your Majesty is presently in a royal gaol cell. Lady Mary Grey was held here against her will for almost a decade."
That's true. For what it's worth, the descriptions of the secret stairway from the Prison Room closet down to the ground and of the undercroft and cold prep room at Windsor Castle are accurate - or at least they were from when I got to see them. Which is a few years back, so a hot tub may have been installed for all I know. That aside, all the secret passageways in this tale are drawn from life, with one exception near the end, which is a bit of personal speculation on my part.
If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear my reading of Part Fourteen of our serialization of The Prisoner of Windsor simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here - so you can choose whether to listen each night twenty minutes before you lower your lamp, or save them up for a weekend binge-listen now that Netflix et al have canceled all the watchable telly.
Re last night's episode with the sudden appearance of the American president , a Delaware member of the Steyn Club, Elizabeth Janairo, writes:
Don't use 'Jesus' except in prayer.
Well, it wasn't me, Elizabeth - it was a character, and a somewhat typically profane member of the Kennedy family at that. (That precise comment was, in fact, taken almost word by word from something I overheard a particular Kennedy say.) But I take your point. We have a strict no-profanity rule at SteynOnline, mainly because I'm bored by the blizzard of F-words everywhere else. I considered suspending it for Tales for Our Time, but then decided to stick with our usual practice, and as a result, when the foul-mouthed president showed up, our swear-beeper was working overtime and has now gone for a weekend in the Bahamas on the strength of the cash windfall from that episode. But perhaps we should have worked it a little harder. I'll mull that over for when we post the whole thing at the end of the series.
However, if you think that president took the Lord's name in vain, I submit the late Zimbabwean agriculture minister's use was worse. You can hear about it in the latest edition of The Mark Steyn Show, which is our daytime complement to these nocturnal adventures with news, songs, poetry, elegies and more.
~Membership in The Mark Steyn Club is not for everyone, but it helps support all our content - whether in print, audio or video - and keeps it available for everyone, around the world. And, aside from Tales for Our Time, being a Steyn Club member does come with a few other benefits:
~Exclusive member pricing on over 40 books, CDs and our Steynamite specials in the Steyn store;
~The opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of our video content, such as Mark's Mailbox and The Mark Steyn Show;
~Comment Club privileges;
~Our weekend series of video poetry and other specials;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, should I ever again have any, as well as our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, which will be touring the apocalypse as soon as freedom of movement is restored by our masters;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the world.