Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As we were chatting of this and that last evening, the middle gel mentioned to me that she’s already into Chapter 4 of Great Expectations.  After this, she apparently intends to tackle both A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Moby Dick.

Now, let me just hasten to say here that I don’t relay this conversation in order to stick on side about my Lake Woebegone-like above-average children.  As a matter of fact, the first thing that flashed across my mind was the Bard’s line about“Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, And falls on th’other.” We shall see how far she actually gets with the project.

No, instead I bring it up because whilst noodling on the authors mentioned, particularly Dickens, it occurred to me that it is perfectly absurd that I haven’t touched one of his novels since high school, a period during which I am unashamed to say the value of his work, beyond its most superficial aspects, was no doubt quite thrown away on me.   (By the bye, does anyone actually still teach Dickens in secondary school these days?  And by that I mean teaching Dickens as a great author and not as a poster boy for the imperialistic, religiously-blinded, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, capitalistic, Euro-centric slime pit out of which we only just managed to crawl thanks to the gift of post-modern enlightenment.)

Aaaaanyway, our little chat inspired me to dip into Dickens myself, not just rereading the ones I’ve done before, but also tackling the ones I should have but didn’t.   (Bleak House comes to mind, for instance.)

Oh, and speaking (at least tangentially) of Dickens, I caught Scrooged on the teevee last evening for the first time in years and years.  All I remembered from the past was the ditzy Ghost of Christmas Present and Bobcat Goldthwaite wandering around with a shotgun and an attitude.  Thus, I was unexpectedly and absolutely sandbagged by the big climax.   I tell you truly, friends, Bill Murray’s speech on the meaning of Christmas and the way in which the spirit of love celebrated on that day ought to build and flow out to the rest of the year left me in something pretty close to tears.  Well said, indeed.