Given that my nom de blog owes its existence to David Copperfield, it would seem rather ungrateful to ignore the fact that today is Charles Dickens' 200th birthday.
Here he is, painted by one of his friends, my wife's great-great-great uncle, William Powell Frith:
Everybody loves Dickens. A few of the hardcore fans even read his books, but most people are content to enjoy the lavish BBC adaptations, denuded of any of that nasty, dense prose that makes them take more than a week to read.
They don't know what they're missing.
I will be paying my own tribute later today, by not throwing any Charles Dickens books into the recycling bin at work.
The last Dickens novel I read was Bleak House. I was alone in Chile, staying in a small town at the foot of a volcano. It was winter in England, but the middle of summer there and I spent long afternoons lazing by a deep blue lake. It was an idyllic setting.
But I was homesick. I hadn't spoken to anyone for nearly two weeks and was feeling increasingly isolated. Then I started reading Bleak House and found that I was no longer travelling alone. Dickens remained my constant companion for the rest of the journey and I found solace in a lost world of damp, ivy-clad stone, autumnal woodsmoke and long shadows.
I have a secret fantasy of being stranded again in another part of the world, with only a Charles Dickens novel for company.
But rather than write any more, I will let Mr Dickens have the final word, with a small selection of quotes:
The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists. The civility which money will purchase, is rarely extended to those who have none.