I’m no Dickens fan. I don’t necessarily see why he’s the granddaddy of English literature. He’s the Victorian version of those clickbait articles that drag out a really boring story for about 5 pages to keep their stats up. I get that he was basically being paid by he word but did he have to make it so obvious. Then there are the bloody names. Every time anyone talks about Dickens they bang on about how funny his characters names are. Really? They’re like bad dad jokes at best. I don’t hate all of his novels of course. A Christmas Carol is a fantastic book and I have a certain love for Great Expectations. That’s about it though. It’s been years but I’m still bitter about having to study Hard Times for my A Levels. It’s such a boring book. With all of these negative feelings swimming around my head, you’d be forgiven for thinking that an adaptation of David Copperfield wasn’t the top of my list of must-see films. Well, it turns out that Armando Iannucci can make anything palatable.
So, the BBC and FX have made a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. This one isn’t like the rest though. It’s by the guy who did Peaky Blinders and has Guy Pearce playing the youngest looking Scrooge ever seen on-screen (probably, I can’t be bothered to fact check). And it has Andy Serkis playing the ghost of Christmas Past. Although, no matter how stylised or different the story might look, every adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the same as the last. I mean the story never changes and there are only so many new ways to interpret it. Yes, I think it is an apt tale for modern times when the gulf between the rich and poor is bigger than it has been in decades (again, probably, I’m neither an economist or a sociologist). But I do have to ask “do we NEED another one?” And I say that as someone who bloody loves the book. Also, I’m not alone. I read a story that suggested Andy Serkis said the exact same thing when he was offered the role. I’m sure it’ll be a great adaptation but, no matter how many times people say it’s the most original adaptation we’ve ever seen, I’m still not convinced it’ll be that groundbreaking. And I should know. I’ve watched a lot of adaptations in the past few weeks in preparation for this list. I’m still nowhere near seeing all of the various ones but I’ve got a good idea of what’s out there. And, it’s safe to say, I’m bloody bored of hearing the same lines over and over again. Well, until I watch the new one on 22nd December.
We’ve reached the penultimate episode of Throwback Thirty so I’ve decided to watch one of my favourite Christmas films. Whilst it didn’t quite make it into my Top 11 Essential Christmas films, it is certainly something I enjoy watching this time of year. Really, I like films that play with Charles Dickens’ story in different ways. I understand the fact that, as a Victorian novel, it feels as though you should stay true to the time period. But there are only so many times you can see an angry old man in a nightgown following ghosts around until it gets boring, so changing it up a bit is always welcome. Whilst I will always see The Muppets Christmas Carol as the ultimate adaptation of the tale, Scrooged, at least, tries to bring it into the modern age. And, as it was released in 1988, it was made during Bill Murray’s glory days. And, let’s be honest, who better to play a mean, slightly unhinged, and haunted TV executive than the great Murray? Who better to star in the classic festive tale? When Bill’s around it’ll always be a Murrary Christmas.
We’re only 6 days from Christmas day and I’m feeling anything but festive. Forget one of my dark days, it’s been a dark week so far. I understand that the idea of being completely happy in your job is a lie that we’ve been fed since childhood but I was, at least, hoping the happy moments would outweigh the sad. Not this week. Out of the 4 shifts I’ve done so far this week, I’ve come away wanting to sit in the dark and cry after 3 of them. Which has had a massive knock-on effect on my reading so I’m nowhere near finishing Murder on the Orient Express. It’s a rereading so, realistically, I could still have written a review of it but, to be honest, I just want to go to bed and forget this week ever happened. So, I went searching for an easy book tag to fill in the space in my schedule and even that proved to be too draining. And now I’m sat here feeling defeated and quite pathetic for letting this get to me so much. I hate being the kind of person who constantly moans about work and who gets so upset about it. But, unfortunately, some days there are just so many frustrating things that, instead of washing over my head, they just end up drowning me. Still, I’d hate myself just as much if I didn’t get a post up, so I searched the internet for an appropriately Christmassy tag. Let’s see how this goes.
So, this week definitely got away from me somewhere. I expected to be finished with another book by this point but I’m still reading both of the books I’ve got on the go. I should have Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet by next week but, for now, I’m having to find something random to fill out this post. Thankfully, it’s nearly October and I’ve been trying to get into the spirit of Halloween all month. Last week I posted a Nightmare Before Christmas themed post on Instagram so when I discovered this book tag everything seemed perfect. It helps that I love both the book and the film A Nightmare Before Christmas. But who doesn’t? It’s the perfect film to start you off on your journey to Christmas as early as October. Why wait until advent to start watching Christmas films when Tim Burton has you sorted? And why watch the film when you can do the book tag? Yeah? No? Okay. Well I’m invested now.
Dear Hard Times,
You can’t like every book. It’s a fact of life I’m afraid. The fact that I really hate you shouldn’t be a bad thing. To use an old cliche, it’s not you, it’s me. Except that it’s totally not me. It’s you. Although, it probably has something to do with my old English teacher too. It’s unfortunate for you that I was forced to study you at the age of 17 with the only teacher I have ever disliked. So, maybe, it’s him? It certainly makes a difference. If you’re taught a book badly then how can you ever like that book? It was all pretty unfortunate that in my final year of school I was moved into a different set and taken away from my favourite teachers. I didn’t like his style and he didn’t like mine. It was never going to end well.
Although, to be honest, it was always going to be difficult for us to get along. I don’t have a great track record with Charles Dickens. I’ve never understood his reputation as one of Britain’s greatest writers. I get that he has some value in terms of his social and economic commentary. But, really, it’s all a bit much. For years I’ve heard people rave about the hilarity behind his names. Really? Yeah, okay, there’s some word play there but meh. Loads of people have written funny names and not gone down in history. He’s so long and cumbersome. We all know that he was paid by the word because he’s so fucking obvious about it. So much unnecessary description. He puts Ann Radcliffe to shame.
I made it through Great Expectations without wanting to kill myself but I had a great teacher. I really like A Christmas Carol but that could have something to do with The Muppet Christmas Carol. You, Hard Times, were too much. Considering you’re the shortest of Dickens’ novels that is really saying something. You’re stuffed to breaking point with characters and plot lines. I could barely remember what was going on at the time let alone years later.
You’re also super preachy and negative. I realise that’s the point but sometimes you don’t want to be around such pessimistic people. You’re like those vegans who decide that, as well as changing their lives for the cause, they have to try to force their opinions on everyone they meet. Religious people who can’t accept that not everyone is willing to accept some sort of higher power into their lives. I don’t have room for people like that.
I respect your message, Hard Times. You were intended to show people the awful conditions some industrial workers faced. The problem is, you’re far too cynical. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. You aren’t the best novel Dickens has ever written and you definitely aren’t his most loved. You are so focused on the task at hand that you simplify everything and take things too far. Eventually, things become so pessimistic and sullen that you can’t see anything beyond it.
You’ve haunted me for 13 years. I’ve honestly never recovered from reading you. I’ve read books I didn’t like before but my short relationship with you was dreadful. It was toxic. I had such a ‘hard time’ reading you and had such a terrible time studying you. We’re incompatible. Different people. You can’t like everyone and you can’t like every book. You’ll sit languishing on my shelf. You can talk shit about me to your friends and I’ll talk shit about you to mine. I don’t need you in my life. I’m all about the fun.
People must be amuthed,