Programming note: On Sunday morning, I'll be joining Will, Jedediah and Pete live across America on "Fox & Friends", just after 9am Eastern/6am Pacific. Hope you'll tune in.
For some reason, starting, oh, a fortnight ago, I've received a deluge of emails from Mark Steyn Club members asking me, for our next Tale for Our Time, to eschew anything dark and dystopian and instead give us something cheery and escapist. We already have a few comedic tales in our archive - including Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat and a certain other fellow's more contemporary The Prisoner of Windsor. But I thought we'd quit messing about and go straight to The Master: P G Wodehouse. If you need a twenty-minute nightly respite from the woes of the world in 2020, this is the place for you.
This forty-first of our monthly audio adventures features not any of Wodehouse's A-list comic creations - Jeeves, Bertie Wooster, Lord Emsworth, the Empress of Blandings - but one of the first of his recurring characters, albeit one who did not linger long: Psmith, of the Shropshire Psmiths. In this instance, Psmith is far from Shropshire and among the livelier social classes of pre-Great War Manhattan. As I mention in my introduction to this tale, Wodehouse felt obliged to explain a little of New York's mores to his British readership:
The conditions of life in New York are so different from those of London that a story of this kind calls for a little explanation. There are several million inhabitants of New York. Not all of them eke out a precarious livelihood by murdering one another, but there is a definite section of the population which murders—not casually, on the spur of the moment, but on definitely commercial lines at so many dollars per murder. The "gangs" of New York exist in fact. I have not invented them. Most of the incidents in this story are based on actual happenings. The Rosenthal case, where four men, headed by a genial individual calling himself "Gyp the Blood" shot a fellow-citizen in cold blood in a spot as public and fashionable as Piccadilly Circus and escaped in a motor-car, made such a stir a few years ago that the noise of it was heard all over the world...
Golly. Social realism from the creator of Aunt Dahlia and Gussie Fink-Nottle. Maybe this tale isn't as purely escapist as I thought. Not to worry, though: there are plenty of laughs along the way...
To hear the first part of Psmith, Journalist, prefaced by my own introduction to P G Wodehouse's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
If eight months of lockdown, looting and 'lections have taken their toll, I'm happy to offer some relief from the liveliness of Philadelphia's election precincts or Melbourne law enforcement's pregnant-mum-restraining techniques: three-and-a-half years' worth of my audio adaptations of classic fiction starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over three years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus a couple of pieces of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming such ventures are ever again permitted, and sometimes with special guests.
I'm truly thrilled that one of the most popular of our Steyn Club extras these last three years has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed them and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events, such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, assuming such events are ever again lawful;
~Priority booking for the next Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming we're ever again allowed to hold such a thing;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more;
~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 planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to Psmith, Journalist but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if my foray into Wodehouse leaves you far from gruntled, feel free to have at it. And do join us tomorrow for Part Two of Psmith, Journalist.