Hardly can I let the day go by without some reference to the great novelist Charles Dickens, whose 200th birthday it would have been today. I first read Dickens as a college student, and instantly fell in love with the numerous colourful characters that litter his books. I was dazzled by his gift for language, dialogue in particular, and his ability to spin a good yarn with multiple twists and turns that could lead you miles from where the story first began. Who could not fall in love with the tender young Pip, who was such a gentleman to begin with, although he didn’t know it, or the pillar box that was Wemmick, with his portable property, flag-pole and aged parent. I was bowled over by the warmth of human kindness that flows throughout his stories; the selfless deeds of ‘A tale of Two Cities; the brooding darkness and grime of ‘Our Mutual Friend’; and the warning against unsuitable marriage that was ‘David Copperfield’.
But it was the sweet humour of ‘The Pickwick Papers’ that kept coming to my mind today when I thought of Dickens. Often his vast array of colourful characters are what he is most remembered for, the Scrooges, Steerforths and Little Nells of Dickensia, but let us not forget the slapstick, the witty retorts and the situation comedy that makes Dickens live on in his books, and leaves a lingering smile on our faces when we think on him.
Happy Birthday Mr Dickens.