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Dickens at 200 – with The Teacher

LONDON. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Fog everywhere.

Hang on. It's not like that at all any more. There's no fog; there's no mud; there are no dogs or horses… In fact it's not Dickensian.

In English, if we want to describe hard living or working conditions - like something from one of my novels - we can call it Dickensian.

Dickensian.

Strange horse!

I wrote these…

Modern London is very tiring. I think I need to take some rest in one of my favourite public houses. I'm pleased to see it's still here.

I can't believe it! He tried to charge me £3.50 for a pint of beer. I said to him "That's ten weeks' wages for a 12 year-old boy in a factory." I offered him half a penny and he said "Please Sir. I want some more."

As if stealing one of my lines wasn't bad enough, when I refused to pay he called me a scrooge!

In English, when we want to talk about someone who hates spending money, we can call them a scrooge, which is the name of one of my characters. He was very mean with money!

A scrooge

Scrooge was just one of the many characters I created who are among the most memorable in English literature.

But some say London itself is a character in my novels.

A character that has changed.

What the dickens is that?

In English, if we are surprised or angry, we can say 'What the dickens…?'

What the dickens…?

What the dickens is that?

It's my iQuill!

'What the dickens…?' is a bit of an old fashioned expression, but then I'm an old fashioned man. In fact, I'm dead. And I've been dead since 1870. I'm buried over there in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, with some of the greatest writers of the English language. So, in a way I'm still here in London, although it's a very different London to that of my memories…

…And I'll be buried in Teachers' Corner along with the greatest Teachers of the English language…