BBC Radio 7, 5 April 2009
This short story read by Garard Green from 1989 told of a Harley Street
dentist and his wife returning from a conference, and interrupting their journey to spend a few days at an island paradise
run by an English expatriate and his Tahitian wife. The Englishman, just the wrong side of sixty, spends much of his time
running, swimming and keeping fit - presumably to satisfy the insatiable desires of his wife. Everything seems perfect: the
sun perpetually shines, the guest gorge on unlimited food and drink, and the expatriate brags to the dentist about his good
fortune in escaping from the rat race and discovering a paradise just before he retired.
However there has to be a fly in the ointment; this turns out to be the Englishman's
wife, who married him the hope of obtaining access to the Royal Family. When he cannot oblige, she torments him about his
lack of sexual prowess - which forces him into this seemengly endless round of exercise. The story ends with the expatriate
musing rather wistfully about whether he had actually made the right life-choice in leaving Harley Street and emigrating to
The story brings H.G.Wells's History of Mr. Polly up to date and then turns
it on its head. In many ways it seems typically English in theme: better the devil you know rather than the one you don't.
This forms the subject of a never-ending stream of reality shows that clog up terrestrial and satellite television, about
Brits who leave their homeland "for good" and either return or take the alternative option of recreating a little of Britain
on foreign soil. Not a greatly original subject, to be sure, but John Mortimer's witty prose ensured that it was an entertaining