Just ahead of Part Eleven of our nightly audio adventure, a reminder that tomorrow the Thursday rerun of Steyn's Song of the Week airs on Serenade Radio in the UK at 9pm Greenwich Mean Time - that's 4pm North American Eastern.
If you've been following our serialization of The Fixed Period, you'll know that Anthony Trollope is no H G Wells. His story is set in 1980, but the notion of, say, manned flight or television or automobiles does not seem to have occurred to him, though the technology for all was in the air when he wrote his book. Yet Trollope is still a man of the nineteenth century, the age of invention, as we see in tonight's episode. Although the characters here are essentially late Victorians transplanted to 1980, in one respect they're very up to the minute. In his account of a cricket match in Britannula, the author appears to have anticipated all the garish "reforms" to the game made by Kerry Packer in the late Seventies:
It was all England against Britannula! Think of the population of the two countries. We had, however, been taught to believe that no community ever played cricket as did the Britannulans. The English went in first, with the two baronets at the wickets. They looked like two stout Minervas with huge wicker helmets. I know a picture of the goddess, all helmet, spear, and petticoats, carrying her spear over her shoulder as she flies through the air over the cities of the earth. Sir Kennington did not fly, but in other respects he was very like the goddess, so completely enveloped was he in his india-rubber guards, and so wonderful was the machine upon his head, by which his brain and features were to be protected.
We always get queries about the theme music chosen for each tale. Fran Lavery, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes from New Mexico:
Does anyone know what's (title//composer) the piano piece at the opening and closing?
That would be "Goodbye", a song composed by Sir Paolo Tosti with words by George Whyte-Melville. It was published in 1881, the year Trollope wrote The Fixed Period, and was one of the most famous concert pieces in the world for the next half-century or so. As I have said many times, I account the death of light music a small civilizational loss. Maybe I'll play a vocal version on our Friday show.
We like both actual history and fictional fancies here at SteynOnline, but there's nothing healthier than taking a short break from the hell of the hamster-wheel news-cycle and exploring the delights of our Tales for Our Time home page. It's configured in Netflix tile style, with the stories organized by category - thrillers, fantasy, romance, etc - which we hope will make it easy for you to find a favorite diversion of an evening. You can access almost sixty cracking capers here - and all previous episodes of our current adventure here.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club and enjoy our nightly audio adventures every evening twenty minutes before lowering your lamp - or hoard the episodes and binge-listen at the weekend or on a long car journey, if your government currently permits you to take one. For more details on that and other benefits to Steyn Club membership, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Please join me right here tomorrow evening for another episode of The Fixed Period.