This post was originally written for the Subrosa Blonde blog and is reproduced here with permissions.
Charles Dickens was 200 years old this week, quite some feat I’d say. Okay it was the 200th anniversary of his birth then. By all accounts he was a busy man, capable of writing more than one novel at a time. Impressive. I toil with two blog posts at a time.
I’ve read a few of his books, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol jump to mind. I read them because I was told to at school. I’ve also seen some of the films and the TV series as well. I’m not sure I got as much out of the books as I should have done. It’s difficult to read a book that someone else insists you do, not always mind you, but when you are young you are less likely to want to do what you are told.
Dickens was writing successfully from the early 1830’s onwards which was during the end of the “Little Ice Age”. This is more famous now because it’s existence was omitted from Dr Manns hockey stick graph which our dearest and most respected friend A Gore used to such good effect in his film about global warming.
Old Charlie boy Dickens makes mention of the cold and describes the winters in his books referring to ice and snow which we don’t get anymore, well apart from last week anyway and last year and the year before that. According to Charlie D there were Ice Fairs on the Thames and people skating and the like as you do when the weather is chilly and inclement. He was there, he saw it with his own eyes.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the Thames failing to freeze is a sign of global warming. It is nothing of the sort. It doesn’t freeze because the river has been altered by man, (not that Mann, I know he goes to enormous trouble to get his facts right but even he couldn’t manage that) and now flows quicker than before making it unlikely to freeze; although that won’t happen because we don’t have ice and snow and frost anymore.
Where were we? Oh yes Charles Dickens. He was strong on social comment. Oliver Twist “Please Sir can I have some more?” “No Oliver. You’ve had your bowl of gruel so you can’t have another. I’d like to, but of course it wouldn’t be good for you. Calories you see. Don’t want you growing up over weight; cholesterol and high blood pressure to watch out for as well. All due to the food you eat. Hence no salt, no sweet things like cakes and sweets. Good grief no.”
On a lighter note though, lots of good songs in that Oliver Twist book and lots of dancing too. Amazing canine care comment in there, well before the need to have a Dangerous Dogs Act.
And then there’s the delightful Christmas Carol with Mr Scrooge. He won’t part with money. He’s a canny soul. Oh yes. No point in throwing money around on grandiose vanity projects and as for charity? Well. We have the Big Society now and thank goodness for that! Is there still such a thing as the Big Society, it’s gone awfully quiet Dave if there is?
Charity begins at home apparently, I beg to differ it actually begins in India. We pay our taxes and our government then use some of that money for “aid”. Sometimes it’s good “aid” but, well, sometimes it’s not so good. Our politicians give the money to people who don’t actually want it and because we’re skint we have to borrow it in the first place and then pay it back at a rate of interest, which is less than appealing. India gets “aid”. There are people there who live in real poverty but India can afford a space programme (I’m not clear whether it’s Doctor Who or Star Trek though), French fighter jets and they send aid to Afghanistan. Slightly odd really.
That David Copperfield was just magic! Tricky at times though. And then there’s Uriah Heep not such a humble band when you got up close at one of their gigs. I’m amazed that Charles Dickens invented a heavy rock band even before electric guitars had been invented? How did he know? Spooky!
Bleak House? Sounds like there might be not too many laughs in that one.
Did Dickens write the Merchant of Venice? He must have because it’s pretty damn fine. Keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the last bit. I’m not altogether sure about the accuracy of it mind you. It might be just me but where were the descriptions of those chaps with the long poles and the groandolas? No mention either of all the blooming tourists and those whacking great cruise liners they park round the back? Stupidly I thought that Venice was in Italy. How wrong was I? It’s actually in Las Vegas. Now there’s a place that gets it’s pound of flesh regardless