After Miles and Kimberly left yesterday I finished reading Claire Tomlin’s Charles Dickens: a Life, which I have enjoyed very much indeed. It threw a completely new light on this author who I have enjoyed immensely since doing a paper round, in my early teens, in order to purchase a complete set of his works from a local junk shop. Dickens was a restless soul almost to the point of being manic. If he wasn’t writing a monthly episode of his current book – all, or almost all, of his books were written like that and I think as a result he made considerably more money than he would have done had he sold them initially in a completed bound copy. They sold in staggering numbers anything up to 100,000 copies in the first week.
In between his writing he got involved in a great number of good works, particularly with Miss Coutts (of the family bankers fame) starting homes for fallen women; setting up appeals for the widow of friends or just for friends who fall on hard times: taking on the editorship of various papers, magazines and in between these activities giving a great number of readings from his books, both in this country and America, which were immensely popular. He was constantly falling out with his publishers over money and changed them several times. He enjoyed a fine reputation and was constantly being invited to dinners and celebrations of one sort or another. Even Queen Victoria expressed a desire to meet him to which he had acceded but not with a great deal of enthusiasm.
When the Queen said how very much she would like to hear one of his famous hearings. Dickens answered dryly that he did not give private readings and that was that.
He was much loved by a few friends and the public generally but was not a particularly good parent or friend, his own brother, Fred’s scrounging and fecklessness became intolerable to Dickens and he was cast aside and died penniless and alone. He was an enigmatic character. His own daughter Katie said of him’ I know things about my father’s character that no one else ever knew; he was not a good man, but he was not a fast man, but he was wonderful!’ She said, her buts acknowledged the difficulty of making a definitive moral judgement on him. He did not want any special Memorial and in his Will said’ I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works and to the remembrance of my friends upon their experience of me’. He was, however, ultimately buried in Westminster Abbey in an unadorned gravestone with the simple word Dickens on it A fascinating book which I would recommend any Dickens lover to read.
Then I watched an episode of Twenty Twelve, a spoof, on the lines of Yes Minister, covering the run-up to the Olympic Games. Then the six o’clock carer came in to prepare me for bed after which I had my supper and watched something else on television for an hour or so before being hoisted and wheeled into the bedroom. That’s the only drawback in going to bed at 8.30 we really don’t have much of an evening together. So we are hoping that Ross Nursing will be able to change this to 9.00, which will mean we can at least see the end of whatever we are watching on the television.
This routine in my life seems to make the days speed by. My first carers coming at 7. 30 to shower and dress me (I will already have had my breakfast and had a shave). I am then wheeled through and wired up in my study where I spend most of the morning writing this blog and dealing with e-mails and other business. Then the midday carer comes to put me on the commode and deal with any other needs. When the carer’s gone, I encourage’ my lovely’ to sit down for half an hour or so and watch Judge Judy. She invariably falls asleep which is a good thing, bearing in mind her broken nights. After that is time for tea and how quickly time passes before the six o’clock carer comes in to prepare me for bed. Then supper, followed by a very short evening’ s television before I am wheeled through at 8.30 for bed
A typical day in the life of……
Going back to Dickens and his expressed wishes in his Will, the following Living Will may amuse you. Click here to see it.