Programming note: Tomorrow, Friday, I'll be presenting another Clubland Q&A taking questions from Steyn Club members live around the planet. That's at 5pm North American Eastern, which is 10pm British Summer Time.
Meanwhile, welcome to Part Five of our current Tale for Our Time: a counterintuitively vernal audio entertainment by Anthony Trollope, The Fixed Period.
Kate Smyth, a Sydney member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
'...and it occurred to me at last that he forced himself into abnormal sprightliness, with a view of bringing disgrace upon the law of the Fixed Period.'
This was a very under-appreciated novel, especially as there are Fixed Periodists living among us today who - by their own standards - have over-stayed their welcome.
For instance, from The Guardian in 2010...
'Martin Amis [aged 60] has picked a fight with the grey power of Britain's ageing population, calling for euthanasia 'booths' on street corners where they can terminate their lives with 'a martini and a medal'. The author of Time's Arrow and London Fields said in an interview at the weekend that he believes Britain faces a "civil war" between young and old, as a "silver tsunami" of increasingly ageing people puts pressure on society.' - Caroline Davies, January 24 2010.
Amis might well be right, but - at 72 - why doesn't he lead by example? Or is he too focussed on giving the impression of abnormal sprightliness?
He's right, Kate, that many western societies face a future where the young will be at war with the old. Albert Brooks wrote a rather droll novel on the subject, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America. What both men miss is the way the inter-generational hostility will be exacerbated by "diversity": there will be insufficient social solidarity (a necessary condition for high-tax welfare states) in either Britain or America for young Muslims and young Hispanics, respectively, to bear the burden of supporting old white folks.
As for Mr Amis, it seemed a grand idea when he was Neverbend. Alas, the years roll by and now he's Crasweller. In tonight's episode of The Fixed Period, the President of Britannula is made more acutely aware of the distinction:
"Crasweller," said I, "you and I have always agreed to the letter on this great matter of the Fixed Period." He looked into my face with supplicating, weak eyes, but he said nothing. "Your period now will soon have been reached, and I think it well that we, as dear loving friends, should learn to discuss the matter closely as it draws nearer. I do not think that it becomes either of us to be afraid of it."
"That's all very well for you," he replied. "I am your senior."
"Ten years, I believe."
"About nine, I think."
That "all very well for you" line always reminds me of running into Sammy Fain, composer of "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing", not long after the death of a fellow songwriter of his. I was in the company of my girlfriend, a young lady of twenty-six, who said rather breezily, "Oh, well, he was eighty-seven. He had a good innings."
"That's easy for you to say," said Sammy. "I'm eighty-six."
Very Crasweller. He died the following year.
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 Fixed Period 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 have coming up this weekend another excursion into video poetry, because that's where the big bucks are.
Please join me tomorrow evening for Part Six of The Fixed Period.
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