Programming note: Tomorrow, The Mark Steyn Show comes to the UK's new must-see channel GB News, every Friday at 7pm GMT - that's 2pm North American Eastern. You can watch from anywhere on the planet right here.
Meanwhile, welcome to Part Five of our current Tale for Our Time: an autumn audio entertainment by Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
Wanda Sherratt, a First Week Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Ottawa, is enjoying our yarn as an exemplar of all the conventions of the genre:
So many great country-house murder traditions on display here! Especially the servants in a distant wing, with no communication with the rest of the house. Stephen Leacock wrote a satire on murder mysteries called 'The Great Detective', and naturally did not neglect this detail:
'Save for the maids, who slept in a distant wing, and save for the butler, whose room was under the stairs, the Chase, at this time of the year, was empty. As Sir Charles sat thus in his arm-chair, his head gradually sank upon his chest and he dozed off into slumber. Foolish man! Doesn't he know that to doze off into slumber in an isolated country house, with the maids in a distant wing, is little short of madness?'
Now that I think of it, maybe some Stephen Leacock would be nice for a future Tale for Our Time, as a way of adding some more Canadian content. I'll bet few Americans have heard of him, and a lot of his essays are as funny now as when he wrote them.
I'll bear that in mind, Wanda. Nevertheless, and with respect to your earlier point, in tonight's episode of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the house staff may be in an impossibly distant wing, but evidently the gardeners are close at hand:
"Poirot," I cried, "where are you?"
"I am here, my friend."
He had stepped outside the French window, and was standing, apparently lost in admiration, before the various shaped flower beds.
"Admirable!" he murmured. "Admirable! What symmetry! Observe that crescent; and those diamonds—their neatness rejoices the eye. The spacing of the plants, also, is perfect. It has been recently done; is it not so?"
"Yes, I believe they were at it yesterday afternoon. But come in—Dorcas is here."
"Eh bien, eh bien! Do not grudge me a moment's satisfaction of the eye."
"Yes, but this affair is more important."
"And how do you know that these fine begonias are not of equal importance?"
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Five of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes of The Mysterious Affair at Styles can be found here, and previous Tales for Our Time here.
If you'd like to join us in The Mark Steyn Club, we'd love to have you: please see here. And, if you've a chum who enjoys classic fiction, we've introduced a special Steyn Gift Membership: you'll find more details here. Oh, and we also do video poetry, because that's where the big bucks are.
Please join me tomorrow evening for Part Six of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.