Happy Halloween. We have many spooky delights for you this All-Hallows Eve, including my favorite vampire and a bewitching song, plus some truly terrifying audio. But, aside from the usual horrors, I thought we'd offer something a little different. Last year, after one of our Sunday Poems, Mark Steyn Club Founding Member Robert Meador wrote with a request:
Kipling is a treasure. I see I am not the first to recommend his Just So Stories, but I'm sure I speak for Marvin and other felines everywhere: you should do a recording of 'The Cat That Walked By Himself'.
Well, I've always loved that particular tale. A lot of the Just So Stories are delightful and whimsical, but "The Cat That Walked By Himself" is also profound. So I took up Robert's suggestion and am pleased to reprise it here as a Halloween bonus for Steyn Club members. It's a tale of domestication - from the days when "the Tame animals were wild":
The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wildâ€”as wild as wild could beâ€”and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.
Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn't even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, 'Wipe you feet, dear, when you come in, and now we'll keep house.'
To hear "The Cat That Walked By Himself", prefaced by my own enthusiastic intro, please click here and log-in.
On the other hand, it's not Kipling, but at this time of year we always get a lot of requests for this - with apologies to Tweety and Sylvester ...and Sting:
That's a special appearance right at the end by David Porter-Thomas from the English National Opera as the basso profondo puddy tat. That's how nutty this track is: The best singer on it gets one line, and I get the rest. (It's from Feline Groovy, needless to say.)
We launched The Mark Steyn Club last year, and I'm immensely heartened by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. In Tales for Our Time I revisit some classic fiction I've mentioned in books and columns over the years - old stories that nevertheless speak to our own age. So, aside from our Halloween bonus, later this evening we'll be wrapping up our current serialization of creepily Halloweenesque bent, Kafka's Metamorphosis. Elsewhere in our ever-growing audio library you'll find Conan Doyle and H G Wells, Conrad and Gogol, Jack London and Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. To hear all these and our imminent November serial, all you need to do is join the Club - either for a full year or a see-how-it-goes experimental quarter. Or, if you have a friend who likes audio fiction, don't forget our new gift membership.
See you on the radio in Toronto with the great John Oakley later this afternoon at 5pm Eastern.