I finally finished Bleak House

That was a bit of a marathon as it is a giant rollercoaster of a novel, in 400 sizzling chapters, but I enjoyed it. I am a fast reader, but I seem to have been toting that doorstop around for some weeks. I was getting a bit sick of it by the last 200 pages, so I went to the coffee shop and vowed that until I had finished the book I would not leave, or stop eating chicken and bacon sandwidges.

It is good as I used to have a real blind spot about Dickens, until a brief yet intensely passionate dalliance with a pretty English teacher introduced me to Great Expecktations, which is fantastic. The book actually lasted longer than the relationship though. Then I read Nicholas Nickleby which unfortunately I left on the bus by mistake, so will never now find out what happens. Unless I buy another copy. Then Hard Times which was a bit too moralising for my taste, plus Dickens’ wonky attempts at dialect, like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins: “Cor bloimey! Oi’m a Cockney, thit’s wot Oi em!”

Bleak House is another book with a point to make, this time about the immense slowness and venality of the legal system, where people waste their whole lives and lose all their money pursuing complicated Chancery cases. I must say I would not want to piss Dickens off in case he wrote a great sledgehammer of a moral novel criticising me: Keith Lard, a massive tale of the downtrodden urban poor oppressed by a cruel and wicked system administrator, who promises to fix their laptops and then never seems to get round to it.

The only thing is how did he find time to write 107 gigantic novels, when most of us struggle to dash off a note to the milkman. I can only conclude he did not have a lot of friends who kept coming up to him at about 7 o’clock in the evening making swigging pint gestures and saying ‘Oi Oi Charley boy! It’s your round son!’ And that he did not have a girlfriend as they soak up a lot of time too.

In a good way obviously.

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