I am a great fan of Dickens. If you have never read one of his novels then I suggest you do. It might just open your eyes. If you look past the comedic larger than life characters and note the detail of life in Victorian England, not to mention the sometimes heartbreak stories that thread their way through each novel, then you might just begin to look around nervously.
Not all his stories have happy endings. In the grim reality of Victorian Life, abject poverty, high infant mortality and child poverty, a broken and over crowded prison service, limited access to health care, poor living conditions, a vast gap between the poor and rich, a ruling elite blind to the needs of the poor, no social care, then you might read his novels with an air of deja vu.
Dickens was one of those great illuminators and communicators, throwing light into the dark places and telling it to the world in a manner which the masses read and discovered. Oh we could so do with a Dickens for our modern times. But all we have is the Penny Dreadfuls of sensationalist news telling us how great the Empire will be again……for those who can pay.
One of those in charge, member of our government representing the people and with responsibility for their and their countries wellbeing reportedly said that the less well off should work harder like they did. In equality gives those in power the luxury of believing they are right.
This week I have witnessed the doctors and nurses in a local A&E working damned hard. With a corridor full of trolleys with ill people lined up its entire length waiting to be seen. I witnessed individuals with debilitating mental health problems fighting to get out and cope with life. I have witnessed the people on the streets with nowhere to go and no food. I have witnessed families relying on food banks to put food on the table. I have witnessed people holding down three jobs to keep their families with the basic needs. I have witnessed people being scared to walk the streets because ignorance about their ethnicity brings.
At some point in my life I reached the conclusion that stuff is all very well. The most important thing in all our lives are the people around us. If we can’t treat them with respect, have our basic needs met and care for them regardless of who or what or where, then I think maybe this country needs a Dickensian reality check.
Artwork of the week: