Time for Part Twenty-Seven of my contemporary inversion of Anthony Hope's Ruritanian classic of 1894, The Prisoner of Zenda.
Beth Williams, a New Jersey Steyn Club member, was a big fan of my Zenda serialization, but has mixed feelings about this sequel:
To be honest I had to listen to no less then five episodes at one time due to my schedule, which I would not suggest anyone do. Half the time I was literally saying, out loud, 'Mark, you've lost your ever lovin' mind' but I can't stop; The Prisoner of Windsor reminds me of a amusement park ride I went on as a child called the Wild Mouse, I screamed my lungs out the whole time. I think I was about five or six. And then begged to go back on, that's what Mark's Windsor-rama has become, a literary Wild Mouse.
Er, well, thank you, I think, Beth. As I said, the original idea for this inversion of Hope's Anglo-Ruritanian switcheroo is that these days the Central European countries seem by far the least insane part of the western world - and that any Ruritanian visiting contemporary London would find its mores far weirder than Rudolf Rassendyll found Strelsau. Or as Rudy Elphberg begins tonight's episode:
England is not Ruritania. Things that would seem utterly fantastical in Strelsau are entirely routine in London. And so it was that Mrs Rassendyll and I found ourselves in the back seat spiffed up to the nines heading to something called the Coronation Command Performance...
We passed, in the middle of the street, the famous Cenotaph – the tall, tapering stone memorial to Britain's war dead. Beautifully clean unfussy design by Sir Edwin Lutyens, moving words by Rudyard Kipling: 'The glorious dead,' I said aloud, for no particular reason.
Wendy snorted. 'Good God. Don't tell me they're playing!'
'The Glorious Dead. Even the trendies at the Beeb can't put the King through an evening of whatchamacallit ...thrash metal?'
'Post-thrash,' chipped in Sanjay from the front seat.
Earlier this summer the March of the Morons managed to desecrate the Cenotaph in the cause of #BlackLivesMatter. What happens to the British prime minister in this episode is not really that much of a stretch. Plus there's a Katy Perry allusion, which doesn't happen often at SteynOnline.
We have some more audio additions to the bill of fare at SteynOnline in the coming days: first, tomorrow's weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show; and on Sunday a Last Call special.