Advent Firesiders

What The Dickens? (2016)

Another thing to be sad about is the decline of the presence of Charles Dickens at Christmas, not just the various versions over the years of A Christmas Carol and, to a lesser extent, Mr. Pickwick's Christmas but the massed casts of his works, the literary equivalent of Peter Bruegel: gone the caricature and the pathos, the outrage and the whimsy, the squalor and the colour, the familiar journeys with their happy endings, replaced by media offerings - under the loose title of "reality TV" - which are all about people who were supposedly like us becoming what we never can be; if we are all celebrities then none of us are.

There will be all kinds of explanations, including: excessive length set against diminishing attention spans; arcane manners and mannerisms, ways of thinking and feeling, too distant from our contemporary simplicities; and our feeling that the Victorian Dickens was just a trifle coarse and primitive. But I suspect that the main reason that he has gone out of fashion is that he will not stop reminding us of our social obligations and, as we all know, Christmas just isn't the time to be reminded. We've given generously to all  sorts of good causes during the run-up and now it's time to be left alone with our own well earned contentments which makes me wonder why we don't just put the crib back under the stairs in Christmas Eve, having done with all that lot!