Just ahead of Episode Twelve of Nineteen Eighty-Four, thank you again for your kind comments about this latest and all our other Tales for Our Time. Over three-and-a-half years ago now, we launched this series of audio adventures on a whim, threw it together somewhat hastily, and learned on the job. So I’m enormously grateful for your appreciation of it. Tim, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Ohio, especially enjoyed last night’s pub scene:
Wonderful old man in the bar voice. Just wonderful.
One question though: Did you pronounce the word “urinal” as “yer-rye-null”? Is that how the Brits say it?
Thank you, Tim – for the pub voice compliment, that is, not the urinal pronunciation controversy or controversy. Britannic English generally favors yer-rye-nul throughout most of the Commonwealth except Canada, although I have heard it the American way and have a slight personal preference toward that. I wouldn’t linger on the question, except that the urinal recurs tonight.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course a piece of pure escapism by George Orwell about a society in which the citizenry is monitored day and night for signs of thoughtcrime. So nothing to do with anything going on in our world. In tonight’s episode, Winston Smith is in the corridor when the girl with dark hair stumbles and falls:
The whole incident could not have taken as much as half a minute. Not to let one’s feelings appear in one’s face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct, and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no question that she had done it intentionally. It was something small and flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers. It was a scrap of paper folded into a square.
And thus Winston’s day is upended:
For the rest of the morning it was very difficult to work. What was even worse than having to focus his mind on a series of niggling jobs was the need to conceal his agitation from the telescreen. He felt as though a fire were burning in his belly. Lunch in the hot, crowded, noise-filled canteen was torment. He had hoped to be alone for a little while during the lunch hour, but as bad luck would have it the imbecile Parsons flopped down beside him, the tang of his sweat almost defeating the tinny smell of stew, and kept up a stream of talk about the preparations for Hate Week. He was particularly enthusiastic about a papier-mache model of Big Brother’s head, two metres wide, which was being made for the occasion by his daughter’s troop of Spies…
It is odd how many aspects of Nineteen Eighty-Four have become routine features of contemporary activism, such as giant papier-mâché heads: As a general rule, I favor the side without the papier-mâché.
~Membership in The Mark Steyn Club is not for everyone, but it helps support all our content – whether in print, audio or video – and keep it available for everyone, around the world. Indeed, we now provide more free content each week than ever before in our eighteen-year history. And, aside from Tales for Our Time, being a Steyn Club member does come with a few other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, CDs and other items in the Steyn store;
~The opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of our video content, such as Mark’s Mailbox and The Mark Steyn Show;
~Comment Club privileges;
~Our Sunday series of video poetry and other specials;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world – including the forthcoming third Mark Steyn Club Cruise, should it ever be permitted to set sail;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the world.
Please join me tomorrow for Part Thirteen of Nineteen Eighty-Four.