‘Scandal is merely the compassionate allowance which the gay make to the humdrum.’

View the world of Edwardian society through the jaundiced eyes of Clovis Sangrail and Reginald, Saki's deliciously louche anti-heroes.

Richard Crowest brings these darkly witty stories to life in a series of free, professionally produced readings, available exclusively from Corvidae.

The series began in July 2007, and new stories are added regularly. You can download or listen to individual stories on this page, or subscribe to the podcasts using the links below.

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"I usually listen to speaking books as I drop off to sleep in bed... I've had to stop that habit with the Clovis, though. I don't go to sleep because I keep startling myself awake by guffawing into the pillows. Top stuff!"  Alex Rieneck

"Beautifully read. Wonderfully acted."  Bruce Dow


The Toys of Peace

  1. Foreword - Hector Hugh Munro – “I have always looked forward to the romance of a European war…” A portrait of Saki, his beliefs and his attitude to World War I, by his friend Rothay Reynolds.  Listen to the foreword to The Toys of Peace
  2. The Toys of Peace – “Once back at the Louvre and the girls are mine!”  Listen to The Toys of Peace
  3. Louise – “If you say things like that, quite loud, in a Tube lift, they always sound like epigrams.”  Listen to Louise
  4. Tea – “If one’s soul was really enslaved at one’s mistress’s feet how could one talk coherently about weakened tea?”  Listen to Tea

Reginald in Russia

  1. Reginald in Russia – “I always refused to learn Russian geography at school,” observed Reginald; “I was certain some of the names must be wrong.”  Listen to Reginald in Russia
  2. The Reticence of Lady Anne – “As a rule Lady Anne’s displeasure became articulate and markedly voluble after four minutes of introductory muteness.”  Listen to The Reticence of Lady Anne
  3. The Lost Sanjak – “Any one who has valeted a dead Salvation Army captain in an uncertain light will appreciate the difficulty.”  Listen to The Lost Sanjak
  4. The Sex That Doesn’t Shop – “Agatha apparently has an idea that blotting-paper is only sold in small quantities to persons of known reputation, who may be trusted not to put it to dangerous or improper uses.”  Listen to The Sex That Doesn't Shop
  5. The Blood-Feud of Toad-Water – “Thus all communication between the households was sundered. Except the cats.”  Listen to The Blood-Feud of Toad-Water
  6. A Young Turkish Catastrophe - in Two Scenes – “Ali had wasted little effort on election literature, but had been heard to remark that every vote given to his opponent meant another sack thrown in the Bosporus.”  Listen to A Young Turkish Catastrophe
  7. Judkin of the Parcels – “And Judkin was even as these others; the wine had been suddenly spilt from his cup of life…”  Listen to Judkin of the Parcels
  8. Gabriel-Ernest – ‘“Flesh,” said the boy, and he pronounced the word with slow relish…’  Listen to Gabriel-Ernest
  9. The Saint and the Goblin – ‘The goblin was too well bred to wink; besides, being a stone goblin, it was out of the question.’  Listen to The Saint and the Goblin
  10. The Soul of Laploshka – ‘Laploshka was one of the meanest men I have ever met, and quite one of the most entertaining.’  Listen to The Soul of Laploshka
  11. The Bag – ‘Major Pallaby was a victim of circumstances, over which he had no control, and of his temper, over which he had very little.’  Listen to The Bag
  12. The Strategist – ‘Rollo faced the company with a smile that he imagined the better sort of aristocrat would have worn when mounting to the guillotine.’  Listen to The Strategist
  13. Cross Currents – ‘To be beyond reproach was one thing, but it would have been nicer to have been nearer to the Park.’  Listen to Cross Currents
  14. The Baker’s Dozen – ‘“We can’t wait indefinitely for one of the children to take after a doubtfully depraved great aunt.”’  Listen to The Baker's Dozen
  15. The Mouse – ‘… he proceeded with violent haste to extricate himself partially and the mouse entirely from the surrounding casings of tweed and half-wool.’  Listen to The Mouse

Reginald

  1. Reginald – “I did it - I who should have known better...”  Listen to Reginald
  2. Reginald on Christmas Presents – “Unlike the alleged Good Woman of the Bible, I’m not above rubies.”  Listen to Reginald on Christmas Presents
  3. Reginald on the Academy – “To die before being painted by Sargent is to go to heaven prematurely.”  Listen to Reginald on the Academy
  4. Reginald at the Theatre – “That is the worst of a tragedy,” he observed, “one can’t always hear oneself talk.”  Listen to Reginald at the Theatre
  5. Reginald's Peace Poem – “I'm afraid I shall have to drop the aasvogel.”  Listen to Reginald's Peace Poem
  6. Reginald's Choir Treat – “The most virtuous women are not proof against damp grass.”  Listen to Reginald's Choir Treat
  7. Reginald on Worries – “I think she must have been very strictly brought up, she’s so desperately anxious to do the wrong thing correctly.”  Listen to Reginald on Worries
  8. Reginald on House Parties – “There's such a deadly sameness about partridges; when you’ve missed one you’ve missed the lot...”  Listen to Reginald on House Parties
  9. Reginald at the Carlton – “The Duchess ate an anchovy in a shocked manner...”  Listen to Reginald at the Carlton
  10. Reginald on Besetting Sins: The Woman Who Told the Truth – “The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went.”  Listen to Reginald on Besetting Sins: The Woman Who Told the Truth
  11. Reginald’s Drama – “Wolves in the first act, by Jamrach.”  Listen to Reginald's Drama
  12. Reginald on Tariffs – “Mrs. Nicorax says I have no delicacy; she hasn’t forgiven me about the mice.”  Listen to Reginald on Tariffs
  13. Reginald’s Christmas Revel – “I privately wished that the bears would win sometimes on these occasions; at least they wouldn’t go vapouring about it afterwards.”  Listen to Reginald's Christmas Revel
  14. Reginald’s Rubaiyat – “She said it wasn’t Persian enough, as though I were trying to sell her a kitten whose mother had married for love rather than pedigree.”  Listen to Reginald's Rubaiyat
  15. The Innocence of Reginald – “Youth,” said the Other, “should suggest innocence.” “But never act on the suggestion.”  Listen to The Innocence of Reginald

Photograph by Tony Meech


Beasts and Super-Beasts

  1. The She-Wolf – White Fang meets White Mischief...  Listen to The She-Wolf
  2. Laura – Petty vindictiveness is stronger than death.  Listen to Laura
  3. The Boar-Pig – In which Mrs Stossen attends a party, and Matilda makes a killing.  Listen to The Boar-Pig
  4. The Brogue – In which the Mullets lose a horse and gain a son-in-law.  Listen to The Brogue
  5. The Hen – In which Mrs Sangrail commits a social faux-pas and Clovis performs a miracle.  Listen to The Hen
  6. The Open Window – In which the restfulness of romance is greatly over-estimated.  Listen to The Open Window
  7. The Treasure Ship – In which the Duchess of Dulverton discovers that gold diggers make poor treasure seekers.  Listen to The Treasure Ship
  8. The Cobweb – For Hallowe’en, an atmospheric tale of death foretold.  Listen to The Cobweb
  9. The Lull – There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to... sleepless nights.  Listen to The Lull
  10. The Unkindest Blow – In which the aristocracy learns a trick or two from the working masses.  Listen to The Unkindest Blow
  11. The Romancers – In which a scrounger is treated to a story that beggars belief.  Listen to The Romancers
  12. The Schartz-Metterklume Method – In which the children get an education the parents will never forget.  Listen to The Schartz-Metterklume Method
  13. The Seventh Pullet – One should always have something sensational to say in the train.  Listen to The Seventh Pullet
  14. The Blind Spot – "Clear soup is a more important factor in life than a clear conscience."  Listen to The Blind Spot
  15. Dusk – All washed up? Perhaps a cake of soap might help.  Listen to Dusk
  16. A Touch of Realism – In which Lady Blonze learns to be careful what she wishes for.  Listen to A Touch of Realism
  17. Cousin Teresa – Blame it on the Borzoi.  Listen to Cousin Teresa
  18. The Yarkand Manner – “No one is a hero to one's own office-boy”.  Listen to The Yarkand Manner
  19. The Byzantine Omelette – A socialist socialite discovers that you can‘t make an omelette without breaking a strike.  Listen to The Byzantine Omelette
  20. The Feast of Nemesis – In which Clovis puts the case for a season of ill will.  Listen to The Feast of Nemesis
  21. The Dreamer – If department stores are temples of commerce, it's always respectful to cover your head.  Listen to The Dreamer
  22. The Quince Tree – ‘I think to have a quince tree and not to make quince jam shows such strength of character.’  Listen to The Quince Tree
  23. The Forbidden Buzzards – or… Clovis and the Art of Defensive Matchmaking.  Listen to The Forbidden Buzzards
  24. The Stake – You can always bet on a good meal at Mrs Attray’s. Or at least, you could...  Listen to The Stake
  25. Clovis on Parental Responsibilities – “Her view of life seems to be a non-stop run with an inexhaustible supply of petrol...”  Listen to Clovis on Parental Responsibilities
  26. A Holiday Task - One’s memory often plays tricks. Sometimes on other people…  Listen to A Holiday Task
  27. The Stalled Ox - Art exists in seeing the unexpected in the everyday: an ox in a morning room, for instance…  Listen to The Stalled Ox
  28. The Story-teller - A stranger on a train spins a good yarn. Horribly good…  Listen to The Story-teller
  29. A Defensive Diamond - Beauty is truth, and truth is optional.  Listen to A Defensive Diamond
  30. The Elk - Bertie might rescue Dora from the elk, but who can rescue Bertie from his grandmother?  Listen to The Elk
  31. Down Pens - Thanks… but no thanks.  Listen to Down Pens
  32. The Name Day - “In a railway accident, things become very dear…”  Listen to The Name Day
  33. The Lumber Room - In which Nicholas meets the Evil One, and his “aunt” becomes acquainted with the rainwater tank.  Listen to The Lumber Room
  34. Fur - Present. Tense.  Listen to Fur
  35. The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat - In which charity begins at home, and ends in a tea shop.  Listen to The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat
  36. On Approval - In which an artist's reputation rests upon what he eats.  Listen to On Approval

Beasts and Super-Beasts artwork by Liz Dixon


The Chronicles of Clovis

  1. Esmé – Clovis lends a grudging ear as the Baroness relates a hunting story with a difference.  Listen to Esme
  2. The Match-Maker – Clovis finds ultimate spiritual fulfilment in the unselfishness of an oyster, and announces his plans for his Mother's third marriage.  Listen to The Match-maker
  3. Tobermory - If you can talk to the animals - and they can talk to you - it's time to reach for the strychnine.  Listen to Tobermory
  4. Mrs Packletide's Tiger – Envy, envy, burning bright...  Listen to Mrs Packletide's Tiger
  5. The Stampeding of Lady Bastable - Clovis finds a revolutionary way of avoiding an unpleasant stay at the Bastables' country seat.  Listen to The Stampeding of Lady Bastable
  6. The Background - Beauty may be only skin deep, but what about art?  Listen to The Background
  7. Hermann the Irascible - A Story of the Great Weep - An alternative history of the Suffragette movement, where the cat-and-mouse act is replaced by the cat-and-cream act...  Listen to Herman the Irascible
  8. The Unrest-Cure* - When Clovis overhears a railway passenger lamenting his humdrum life, he wates no time in devising a remedial program - or should that be pogrom?  Listen to The Unrest-Cure
  9. The Jesting of Arlington Stringham - The quest for domestic harmony is no joking matter...  Listen to The Jesting of Arlington Stringham
  10. Sredni Vashtar - Saki's darkest tale, a stark warning to all domineering guardians not to go ferreting around where they're not wanted...  Listen to Sredni Vashtar
  11. Adrian - A Chapter in Acclimatization - ‘One can discourage too much history in one's family, but one cannot always prevent geography.’  Listen to Adrian
  12. The Chaplet - If music be the food of hatred...  Listen to The Chaplet
  13. The Quest - Clovis braves hysterical parents and Christian Scientists in his search for hollandaise.  Listen to The Quest
  14. Wratislav - Baa baa black sheep - have you any conscience?  Listen to Wratislav
  15. The Easter Egg - A seemingly innocent story with a bleak and bitter twist in the tail - one with startling pre-echoes of an event that would lead ultimately to Saki's own death, along with millions upon millions of others. Perhaps its real tragedy, though, lies in the way it highlights how little has changed in the last century.  Listen to The Easter Egg
  16. Filboid Studge - The Story of a Mouse that Helped - Credit Crunch for breakfast, anyone?  Listen to Filboid Studge
  17. The Music on the Hill - Beware of horned beasts in autumn time.  Listen to The Music on the Hill
  18. The Story of St Vespaluus - Honey for the Prince?  Listen to The Story of St Vespaluus
  19. The Way to the Diary - in which the Brimley Bomefields find an aunt - and lose a fortune.  Listen to The Way to the Dairy
  20. The Peace Offering - in which the Baroness plans an entertainment, and Cassandra foretells disaster - with a little help from Clovis.  Listen to The Peace Offering
  21. The Peace of Mowsle Barton - The peace and quiet of the countryside is like a duck pond - calm and tranquil on the surface, but with secrets hidden in its murky depths...  Listen to The Peace of Mowsle Barton
  22. The Talking-Out of Tarrington - in which Clovis covers his aunt’s escape with a peach of a story.  Listen to The Talking-Out of Tarrington
  23. The Hounds of Fate They're in the trees. They're coming.  Listen to The Hounds of Fate
  24. The Recessional - in which Clovis pens an ode and Mrs Packletide finally bests Loona Bimberton.  Listen to The Recessional
  25. A Matter of Sentiment - "Lady Susan disapproved of racing. She disapproved of many things; some people went as far as to say that she disapproved of most things."  Listen to A Matter of Sentiment
  26. The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope - What dark impulses lurk in the breast of the editor of the Cathedral Monthly?  Listen to The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope
  27. Ministers of Grace - The Duke of Scaw is on the side of the angels - but whose side are the angels on?  Listen to Ministers of Grace
  28. The Remoulding of Groby Lington - A man is known by the company he keeps.  Listen to The Remoulding of Groby Lington

* A note about The Unrest-Cure

Some have suggested that the subject matter of The Unrest Cure indicates that Munro was anti-Semitic. I would strongly argue exactly the opposite. The whole point of the story is that Clovis's fictional pogrom is an affront to the moral values of any reasonable human being. It is Huddle's horrified reaction to "Prince Stanislaus"'s news that should guide our view of what Munro saw as the accepted order of the world. The fact that Huddle asks "Do you mean to tell me there's a general rising against them?" sadly shows that there was an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in British society at the time, but the plot of The Unrest Cure depends entirely on Huddle - and the reader - finding such an idea utterly reprehensible. It is a hideous irony that the twentieth century was later to be blotted in a way far more horrific than even Clovis could have imagined, but the gruesome idea at the heart of this tale does not mean that Munro, or those who continue to enjoy his stories, share any of the views of Clovis's monstrous imaginary bishop.


Also available

The Ghost Stories of E F Benson

The Ghost Stories of E F Benson - a rather different style of story from another great 20th-century social satirist.

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