I'm very proud that this website now offers more free content than at any time in our eighteen-year history. But we also provide some premium content especially for those who've signed up to be Mark Steyn Club members, and I'm delighted to say Tales for Our Time has become one of our most popular features over the last three-and-a-half years - and that this latest audio adventure is likewise proving popular.
And, on that note, welcome to Part Fifteen of a rather unusual P G Wodehouse caper, in which an upper-class English chappie takes on the slum landlords of the New York tenements. In tonight's episode of Psmith, Journalist, Psmith's pal Mike returns, and can't understand, what with all the bullets and blackjacks, why his chum doesn't simply go to the constabulary. I'd planned this story as a bit of 2020 escapism, but, if you live in one of those cities where 911 no longer seems to be in service, this passage may ring somewhat topical:
"But, man," said Mike, when he had finished "why on earth don't you call in the police?"
"We have mentioned the matter to certain of the force. They appeared tolerably interested, but showed no tendency to leap excitedly to our assistance. The New York policeman, Comrade Jackson, like all great men, is somewhat peculiar. If you go to a New York policeman and exhibit a black eye, he will examine it and express some admiration for the abilities of the citizen responsible for the same. If you press the matter, he becomes bored, and says, 'Ain't youse satisfied with what youse got? G'wan!' His advice in such cases is good, and should be followed. No; since coming to this city I have developed a habit of taking care of myself, or employing private help."
Thank you for all your kind comments about this tale. I regret that Colorado Steyn Clubber Paul Cathey did not like the cut of my Latin jib in Thursday's episode:
I see, Mark, that you belong to that 'modern' school of Latin that pronounces the 'v' as the English-speaking world does the 'w.' I confess that the evidence has brought me around on this point, but having acceded, I can only imagine that Caesar's conquests were brought about by the Gauls and Britons laughing themselves helplessly into submission as he shouted 'Waney, Weedy, Weeky' at them.
I'm reasonably confident, Paul, that that's how Wodehouse would have said it. I started Latin at seven and it was only some years later that a new, young and "modern" teacher attempted to replace our very time-worn textbooks with some modish, gaily colored pamphlets asserting that "v" should be pronounced "v". My classmates and I declined to do so because we thought it made Latin sound too Italian.
Beyond that, I never gave the matter much thought - other than the obvious point that "u" and "v" are both written the same in Latin, and it seems reasonable to assume they are related sounds, as indeed their equivalent letters in English suggest: "u" and "double-u". I have dim recollections of the Cicero passage in which the chap selling figs down at the harbor cries "Cauneas! Cauneas!" - as in "Gitcha Caunean figs right here!" And this is read as a warning to Marcus Crassus not to load his army on to the warships: "Cave ne eas" - ie, beware of leaving.
Obviously, this play on words doesn't works if the "v" in "cave" is pronounced "vee".
Maybe we should have a Classics Corner at SteynOnline. The way things are going on Facebook and Twitter the only way we'll sneak past the thought-police will be to speak in Latin or Greek puns.
"Veni, vidi, vici" I attribute to Latin phrases that become familiar in English and gradually anglicize themselves, like "vice-versa" or "verbatim".
If you've a friend who's a fan of classic (mostly English) literature and you want to give him or her a Christmas present with a difference, we hope you'll consider a one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club. The lucky recipient will enjoy full access to our back catalogue of audio adventures and video poems - Conrad and Conan Doyle, Kipling and Kafka, and all the rest - which should keep you going until both the virus and the violence peter out, or at least until the Year Zero crowd has had all the books banned. For more details, see here.
Through lockdown and 'lections, our nightly audio adventure goes on, so do join me back here tomorrow for Psmith, Journalist Part Sixteen.