Welcome to the final episode of our current Tale for Our Time - in fact, a brace of tales by Rudyard Kipling about the protean world government of the twenty-first century, the Aerial Board of Control. In tonight's conclusion to As Easy as ABC, an act of civic virtue - voting - is reduced to a mere vaudeville turn for the enrichment of a showbiz impresario:
'They're an untouched primitive community, with all the old ideas.'
'Sewing-machines and maypole-dances? Cooking on coal-gas stoves, lighting pipes with matches, and driving horses? Gerolstein tried that last year. An absolute blow-out!'
De Forest plugged him wrathfully, and poured out the story of our doings for the last twenty-four hours on the top-note...
"'Do you really mean they know how to vote?' said Vincent. 'Can they act it?'
'Act? It's their life to 'em! And you never saw such faces! Scarred like volcanoes. Envy, hatred, and malice in plain sight. Wonderfully flexible voices. They weep, too.'
'Aloud? In public?'
'I guarantee. Not a spark of shame or reticence in the entire installation. It's the chance of your career.'
'D'you say you've brought their voting props along - those papers and ballot-box things?'
'No, confound you! I'm not a luggage-lifter. Apply direct to the Mayor of Chicago. He'll forward you everything.'
Thank you for your kind comments about this latest tale. Steyn Club First Weekend Founding Member Fran Lavery (whom I was delighted to meet at my gig with Dennis Miller at the Kodak Center in Rochester last month) writes:
I'm impressed with the way Kipling can carry this technical writing off living almost a century ago.
Ah, but the technical writing is the easy stuff. California member Melissa Ward has an ear for the non-technical - for example, one of the characters' reaction to a bit of praise from a Mark Boat captain:
'Tim's back supples visibly to this oiling.' I love it!
Indeed, Melissa. Kipling had a great imaginative capacity, but he didn't foresee that in the early twenty-first century mankind would be communicating through half-a-dozen acronyms batted endlessly back and forth: LOL. STFU. MBSVTYTO (My back supples visibly to your tweeted oiling).
Undaunted, Tales for Our Time will return next week with another grand audio adventure.
Meanwhile, if you've yet to hear any of our radio serials, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club, now fast approaching its second birthday. For details on membership, see here - and don't forget, if you're in search of a birthday treat for fellow fans of classic fiction, our Steyn Club Gift Membership makes a splendid present.