Charles Dickens interview – exclusive!

13 10 2010

[interview conducted by Sharon Ring]

 

Charles Dickens

 

SR: I’d just like to start by saying welcome to Ghost Appreciation Month, Mr. Dickens and that it’s an honour to mee…is it me or is it very cold in here?

CD: I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean my dear lady, I find the temperature is at a constant, or at least it has been for some years now. If I may I would like to take this opportunity to advise you not to interrupt yourself too much either or I suspect you may get a name for yourself. Are you aware you have a piece of metal caught in your eyebrow? 

SR: Well, of course I’m aware! Has it occurred to you, Mr Dickens, to wonder about this constant temperature business. Doesn’t it strike you as a little odd, perhaps? Ever feel like putting another lump of coal on the fire?

CD: Ah, would it were that easy…nothing would give me greater pleasure, especially if you are cold. Alas, it is not within my power. I am reminded of dear old Ebenezer now, how the memories return!

 

Scrooge & Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol)

 

SR: Dear old Ebenezer! He was hardly the sweetest of people, now was he? All that change of heart malarkey. You’re telling me that all happened then? 

CD: Ah, but you have to remember how that ended, the reader was only there for the beginning of the story. What happened after the conclusion of my story is where the real Ebenezer began. And as to whether the story was real or not, that is for the reader to judge…

SR: Really, Charles…may I call you Charles? You’re telling me it was more than a story? More than the fanciful dreams of an old and unpleasant man?

CD: I hope by fanciful dreams of an old and unpleasant man, you’re not referring to me? I can assure you that people like old Mr. Scrooge are few and far between and would it were so that there were more like him, I would be a very happy man. Take London Town and its current condition, how did it come to this, why have we so little compassion for our fellow man, why is it that we have no desire to give each other aid? I wish we all could be visited by those three ghosts, think of how the world would be then…

SR: I’m none too certain the world would take all that kindly to mass visitations from ghosts. I certainly wouldn’t enjoy it. And why ghosts? Why not something more corporeal? What is it about ghosts that makes people sit up and take notice?

CD: Ah you see, there is too much negativity about ghosts in general, for they are merely the spirits of those before us, they have more information about the world beyond than we could ever glean. We must learn from them and allow them to be able to impart their message.

SR: I’m not sure all of them are intending to impart pleasant messages though. What about all that chain rattling and those silly wooooh noises? You expect us to take that seriously?

CD: Silly wooooh noises? Are you referring to the groans of the dead? Think of the realisation of a lifetime of sin, think of becoming aware that you are going to spent eternity in damnation. I hardly think that you would be singing a ditty, do you? And the chains, oh the chains, the significance of which cannot by underestimated…you have read the novel have you not?

SR: Of course I have, you silly man! It just strikes me as a little melodramatic. And what about all those ghosts who don’t appear to be doing anything, other than sitting in a chair or walking along the corridors of some old mansion. No chains on them. No chains on you, for that matter…

CD: Me? Why are you mentioning me in reference to chains? I see that you wear spectacles and am wondering if you need to have them checked…

Melodrama is a staple diet when thinking of these ‘images’ from the afterlife. How dull it would all be if we were to write them from the perspective of the normal populace…think of Poe or James failing to use melodrama effectively…*ponders*…come to think of it, James doesn’t use melodrama does he, it’s all just matter of fact…but then his protagonists are attacked by bedsheets…I think I need a peppermint tea, I’m feeling the strain…

SR: Are you able to drink peppermint tea in your current, erm, form?

CD: I’m wondering if you are feeling ill my good woman…are you in need of a beverage also?

SR: Perhaps, although not peppermint tea, that’s for sure. Images from the afterlife, eh? Are you a believer in the afterlife, Charles?

CD: A very good question my dear woman and very difficult to answer. I mean, I want to believe but at the very same time the proof is shaky at best, I mean the scientific minds believe there is an explanation for everything and even though we read about ghosts regularly, how often do we believe those that claim to have seen them? Were they tired? On medication? Suffering from stress? We also have this spot in the corner of our eye that lends itself to much trickery from our senses and explains much of these claims of ‘I saw something glide across the room, yet when I looked there was nothing there…’

I would like to believe but the evidence against is too damning.

SR: I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Right now, the evidence is staring me straight in the face. What do you think to that?

CD: *looks behind him* Ha! You almost had me there my dear, very well done, very well done indeed!

SR: *sigh* So, you’ve never seen a ghost then, not personally?

CD: No, there are times I wish I had and a great many times I’m glad I haven’t. For they have a message to impart and sometimes that message is a warning and sometimes it’s not so benevolent as that. I’m not sure an old man such as myself could take the strain. Maybe in my younger days…

SR: Yes! And how old would you say you are now, Charles?

CD: Well I…yes…how old am I, time seems to have gotten away from me a little…are you aware of how old I am?

SR: Well, Charles, this may come as something of a surprise to you. You would be one-hundred and ninety-eight. Doesn’t this strike you as a little odd?

CD: I’m what? You are aware of what you are saying my dear woman? What year is it?

SR: What year do you believe it to be?

CD: I am not sure but I would put it no later than 1870, although part of me feels like I’ve been working on Edwin Drood for quite some time now. I wonder if I shall ever finish that confounded novel!

 

Edwin Drood

 

SR: Oh dear, Charles. The year is 2010.

CD: *goes to look out of the window* You mean? You can’t mean…

TO BE CONTINUED…

[join us later for Gary McMahon‘s short Christmas tale]

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