Sunday lunch on Monday–Hellenic Club, Figtree

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Eight bucks! What can I say, other than “Yum!”

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Pickwick Papers revisited

When I was 13 or 14 I attempted Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens and gave it up. Mind you around the same time I gave up on A Tale of Two Cities on the grounds that if the author couldn’t make  up his mind whether it was the best or worst of times then I couldn’t be bothered going any further. I was on the other hand quite capable of ploughing through the drivellous Harrison Ainsworth and as much Alexandre Dumas as I could find – and then on another level altogether Richmal Crompton’s William books and P G Wodehouse.

All of the above have fallen from the Internet into my Kobo Reader where I have delightedly renewed acquaintance after many years.

At the moment I am 37% into Pickwick Papers and enjoying myself immensely. It is hilarious, and my Grandfather Christison was right after all.

‘My wife, sir—Mrs. Leo Hunter—is proud to number among her acquaintance all those who have rendered themselves celebrated by their works and talents. Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous part of the list the name of Mr. Pickwick, and his brother-members of the club that derives its name from him.’

‘I shall be extremely happy to make the acquaintance of such a lady, sir,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

‘You SHALL make it, sir,’ said the grave man. ‘To-morrow morning, sir, we give a public breakfast—a FETE CHAMPETRE—to a great number of those who have rendered themselves celebrated by their works and talents. Permit Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir, to have the gratification of seeing you at the Den.’

‘With great pleasure,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

‘Mrs. Leo Hunter has many of these breakfasts, Sir,’ resumed the new acquaintance—’"feasts of reason," sir, "and flows of soul," as somebody who wrote a sonnet to Mrs. Leo Hunter on her breakfasts, feelingly and originally observed.’

‘Was HE celebrated for his works and talents?’ inquired Mr. Pickwick.

‘He was Sir,’ replied the grave man, ‘all Mrs. Leo Hunter’s acquaintances are; it is her ambition, sir, to have no other acquaintance.’

‘It is a very noble ambition,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘When I inform Mrs. Leo Hunter, that that remark fell from your lips, sir, she will indeed be proud,’ said the grave man. ‘You have a gentleman in your train, who has produced some beautiful little poems, I think, sir.’

‘My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a great taste for poetry,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

‘So has Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir. She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her "Ode to an Expiring Frog," sir.’

‘I don’t think I have,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘You astonish me, Sir,’ said Mr. Leo Hunter. ‘It created an immense sensation. It was signed with an "L" and eight stars, and appeared originally in a lady’s magazine. It commenced—

     '"Can I view thee panting, lying
     On thy stomach, without sighing;
     Can I unmoved see thee dying
       On a log
       Expiring frog!"'

‘Beautiful!’ said Mr. Pickwick.

‘Fine,’ said Mr. Leo Hunter; ‘so simple.’

‘Very,’ said Mr. Pickwick.

We forget that this was written by quite a young man, albeit one with some life experiences by the age of 25, when he wrote this, that few would envy.

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Dickens at 18

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Dickens at 25

Well, probably…