One of the demoralizing aspects of spending this semi-holiday week in New York has been watching the bollards and barriers go up, and seeing the police presence swelling day by day in preparation for New Year. Likewise, this headline on Ed West's Spectator column in Britain depressed me:
Christmas markets without armed police are now a thing of the past
...and this letter from longtime reader Robert Strauss:
There's something so disheartening and depressing about the closing of the Lyons Christmas market due to the cost of security concerns that it makes a person just plain tired. Christmas markets are such wonderful traditions: fun and kitsch (in the most wonderful way) and beautiful and singularly atmospheric. I love walking through them. It's where a kid's face lights up and a grandparent can escape back into kid-like memories.
And now it's going away. I can't help but think of the hashtag-"not-going-to-let-it-affect-our-daily-lives" mantra coming from the likes of Obama, Sadiq Khan, Theresa, and soda-tax enthusiast Jim Kenney. Hey, the gift-packaged barriers really look nice and Christmasy, don't they? Nothing abnormal there, people. Just pretend there still is a Christmas market when you look at the cute, packaged barriers and enjoy the carols in your earbuds.
What a sad, heartbreaking crock.
And then there was the latest vehicular jihad in a thoroughly bollardized Melbourne. That last one I wrote about, but you can't write about them all - because you'd go mad writing the same column over and over while the western world's political class sticks its fingers in its ears and says, "Nya-nya, can't hear you!" No amount of death or destruction will persuade them to address the issue seriously or consequentially. And so once open, shared traditions become throttled by bollards and security. And in meekly agreeing to surrender our future we lose our past, too.
So instead I woke up early one morning and wrote up my feelings on this madness as a short story, which we offer this New Year weekend as a bonus two-part Tale for Our Time, which Mark Steyn Club members can hear by clicking here and logging-in. It's not in the same league, obviously, as this year's classic Christmas offerings from Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas, but it is a postscript to those tales of a society that, whatever its faults, was bound by shared customs and traditions.
If you're not yet a member of The Mark Steyn Club, we've a veritable library of audio adventures waiting for you - by Conan Doyle, H G Wells, Conrad, Kipling, Scott Fitzgerald. You can find more information about the Club here - and, if you've a pal who'd appreciate these Tales for Our Time, check out our Gift Membership.
If you enjoy Episode One, please join us for the conclusion of Plum Duff tomorrow evening, Saturday, and for some New Year diversions as the weekend proceeds.