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This is still a pretty lousy time in much of the world if you happen to like live music, movies, plays, or most other kinds of public entertainment. But here at Tales for Our Time the lights stay on - and, in the absence of alternatives, there's never been a better time to prowl around our back catalogue. If you're panting for something new, well, we welcome you to Part Twenty-One of our latest audio adventure: The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope.
In tonight's episode the President of Britannula discovers he is to be taken as a prisoner to England, and his republic is to be ruled by a colonial governor:
"My friend Captain Battleax has below a guard of fifty marines, who will pay you the respect of escorting you on board with two of the ship's cutters. Everything that can be there done for your accommodation and comfort,—every luxury which can be provided to solace the President of this late republic,—shall be afforded. But, Mr Neverbend, it is necessary that you should go to England; and allow me to assure you, that your departure can neither be prevented nor delayed by uncivil words spoken to the future Governor of this prosperous colony."
"My words are, at any rate, less uncivil than Captain Battleax's marines; and they have, I submit, been made necessary by the conduct of your country in this matter. Were I to comply with your orders without expressing my own opinion, I should seem to have done so willingly hereafter. I say that the English Government is a tyrant, and that you are the instruments of its tyranny. Now you can proceed to do your work."
"That having all been pleasantly settled," said Sir Ferdinando, with a smile, "I will ask you to read the document by which this duty has been placed in my hands." He then took out of his pocket a letter addressed to him by the Duke of Hatfield, as Minister for the Crown Colonies, and gave it to me.
Trollope's tale is set in 1980. Lest you think the notion of Britain returning a republic to colonial status is far fetched, well, as I mentioned in my intro, it happened just a few months before this caper: December 1979, when the Republic of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was dissolved and did "cease to be an independent State and become part of Her Majesty's Dominions", with President Gumede in the role of Mr Neverbend and Lord Soames in that of Sir Ferdinando.
But maybe the more appropriate comparison is that of the short-lived Republic of Anguilla, proclaimed on the Caribbean island in February 1969 by President Ronald Webster and put down the following month by a couple of dozen London policemen backed by a few Paras. Anguilla remains a Crown Colony to this day.
We'll be right back here tomorrow with Part Twenty-Two of The Fixed Period. If you're minded to join us in The Mark Steyn Club, you're more than welcome. You can find more information here. And, if you have a chum you think might enjoy Tales for Our Time (so far, we've covered Conan Doyle, H G Wells, P G Wodehouse, Orwell, Dickens, Conrad, Kipling, Kafka, Gogol, Baroness Orczy, Victor Hugo, Louisa May Alcott, O Henry, John Buchan, Scott Fitzgerald and more), we have a special Gift Membership.