Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Mister Micawber.

I woke up thinking about Charles Dickens today, and one character in particular. When I was younger, I read Dickens’ books avidly. I loved the characters, and his descriptions of life in all social classes during the Victorian Era in England. Many similar characters still exist in today’s world, albeit watching wide screen televisions, talking on mobile phones, and checking in with Facebook. But the basic characteristics of human nature, outlined so perceptively by Dickens, have hardly changed since 1850, at least in this country.

I am sure we have all met someone like Ebeneezer Scrooge, ‘careful’ with money to the extreme. And who doesn’t recall encountering an oily character like Uriah Heep, at one time during their life? And have you come across a violent person who was just like Bill Sykes, the aggressive drunk and wife-beater, even cruel to his loyal dog, Bullseye? I have. Yes, all human life is there in the pages of his marvellous books. They may seem dated now. Well, we have cars of course, and the Internet. No Hansom Cabs, few outside toilets, and everyone over eighteen can vote. But more than just a reflection of those times, they have many parallels in the twenty-first century.

Wilkins Micawber is undoubtedly still with us, if not in his old-fashioned name. He features in ‘David Copperfield’, working as a clerk for the awful Uriah Heep. His life is debt-ridden, but he refuses to let it get him down. Micawber is the eternal optimist, and his literary catchphrase is “Something will turn up”. In the book, he has some good quotes, including his now famous ‘recipe for happiness’.
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Always cheerful, and refusing to crumble in the face of adversity, his is the very epitome of a positive outlook on life. In a world where the small man can only get by with having to incur debts, he does his best for his family, and stands by his desire to do good by others he meets. In many respects, he embodies the ‘Keep calm and drink tea’ spirit that saw this country through the Blitz.

Some of the Micawbers of 2018 have their debts on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. Others owe money to loan sharks, Payday loan companies with huge interest rates, or have monthly payments for furniture and household goods to find. Families in many areas struggle on minimum wage salaries or unemployment benefit, and sell their meagre possessions at boot fairs, or on Internet auction sites. They play the lotteries with money they can’t really spare, and eat basic food that is all they can afford to buy. But they all have one thing in common with Wilkins.

They are certain that ‘something will turn up’.

52 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. So true Pete! A few centuries there was a man, his last name gives me a own quote. ***lol*** : Bon a parté – We are on a good way, when this will happen in future. And i – with some sadness – think, it will happen again. There are too much people without a real future. Best wishes, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michael. I would like to see something like the French Revolution happen here, but I think the proletariat is too busy with Facebook. 🙂 I volunteer to work the guillotine, to get rid of the aristocrats!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I picked up his complete works from a car boot sale for about a fiver 10 years back and still haven’t read any of them, but they look good on the book shelf. Maybe I’ll get a chance once the kids are bit older and I can introduce them as bedtime reading 🙂
    Its hard to believe that poverty is still so commonplace in the UK (and the world), and a small change in circumstance can be the downfall of so many families. I was pleased to hear that Wonga and the like are now controlled in the UK, although they are getting bigger and more popular here in Poland, so hard times ahead I fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poland needs to crack down on such things soon, Eddy. Perhaps Gosia could start an online forum warning of the dangers, based on the numerous examples from the UK? The meaning of ‘poverty’ is changing. Many very ‘poor’ people here have big TVs, mobile phone contracts, laptops, broadband, and even run a car. But they do all that with money they don’t have, based on spiralling debts, and robbing Peter to pay Paul. A few quid adrift, and their lives come tumbling down.

      Don’t leave that Dickens set on the shelf too long. All human life is in those pages, and as usual with Dickens, they mostly have happy endings suitable for family reading. On top of that, they are a fascinating history lesson. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everyone knows better I’m afraid, but it is scary to see how easy credit has become in such a short period of time over here 😦 Never a borrower or a lender be 🙂
        I’ll dust off the books soon, Malina is growing fast 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, John. Something that turns up is not always good, that’s true. But when that bad thing happens, at least we can still hope for something good to overcome it. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. We have just had a government crackdown on some loan companies. They had annual percentage rates approaching 2000% ! They only loaned small amounts, to ‘ordinary’ people. Some of those borrowers used more such loans to pay off the first ones. It’s tragic indeed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These are the people that will give you the shirts off their backs. They have the least to share and, yet, they share the most. Wouldn’t want to live with Wilkins or Scrooge, but if I had to choose the choice would be aromatic. Wilkins. Hands down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this one today, Pete. Love Charles Dickens. “But the basic characteristics of human nature, outlined so perceptively by Dickens, have hardly changed since 1850” is aptly suggested, although I would say you could date that back to the Greeks!
    My favorite novel is “Bleak House” although I have read many of his books and liked them all. My head was in books growing up as a primary way to entertain my imagination and fill up the long hours of boredom. I will spare you the details, but my childhood lacked positive role models and I instinctively knew that fine writers like Dickens could teach me a lot about morality and life in general. Now that I’m older, I know that all one really needs is a stack of key books and you can forget about years of schooling to turn you into a fine human being. One can teach themselves to enlightenment by sitting in a library. No need for me, the teacher!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Cindy. I don’t have a favourite Dickens, as I like lots of them for different reasons. But he taught me a lot about human nature, class differences, and the history of my own country. (And city)
      I made the 1850 reference as that was when ‘David Copperfield’ was published, but agree it goes back long before that.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m always amazed at what you wake up thinking about! I agree about how skilled Dickens was in depicting characters from all walks of life. He was an excellent observer and his own life was as fascinating as any of his characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary. I was pondering some of life’s daily difficulties when I got up. In my head, I heard myself say ‘something will turn up’, and that led me to Wilkins Micawber, and Dickens’ timeless characters. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post Pete, and it’s so true. Many people do seem to live like that these days.
    When I was still a young child I once did a lecture on Dickens. He really was an amazing writer and I loved many of his tales, especially because of the wonderful characters that he created. Have a great sunday Pete! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My maternal grandmother had a leather bound set of all of Dickens’ work. She kept it in a glass-fronted cabinet in her bedroom, and had never read any of the books. I think they were a wedding present, from 1919. I was allowed to read them, and developed a love for his writing that endures to this day.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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