Hard Times

Early yesterday morning Jackie photographed some of our current garden blooms. Each is labelled in the gallery.

We decided to hold these back to today because of the quantity we had published of the St John the Baptist Cemetery photographs. Later, Elizabeth e-mailed me a selection of hers.

This is her take on the inserted death medals;

she also added her version of the House memorial carved lilies;

she was intrigued by the cremation plaques and their offerings from loved ones and from autumn;

I had refrained from photographing these daffodils, but she made the best of them.

I spent much of today finishing reading

Christopher Hibbert in his knowledgeable and informative introduction places this work in the context of Dickens’s time and his works. He tells us that this begins the writer’s focus on social ills.

This is a well wrought story which largely keeps a good pace and culminates in conclusions with surprises and revelations which I will leave open to anyone wishing to read the book for the first time. The descriptions are good. Despite the harshness of the theme the author’s wry humour is much in evidence. I felt that the dialogue of two characters was irritating enough for me to skim them. One was conveyed in the supposed vernacular; another wath ath thpoken with a thevere lithp. The first indicated the humble origins of the man; the thecond I imagine wath a clownith interval. (I do apologithe WP, but I ethpect you get my point).

Regular readers will need no introduction to the exuberant, animated, illustrations of Charles Keeping, ever faithful to the text, and unbound by the page formats.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s variation on Cottage pie, with the addition of mashed potatoes and cheese; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with tender cabbage, firm Brussels sprouts and tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.


  1. Regarding your skipping of the vernacular – it’s a fine, perhaps impossibly fine art to render any strong local dialect in a way that is fully intelligible to others, yet fully true to the dialect. I’d be skipping it too!

  2. Your flowers are fortunate to be your garden and never experience hard times! ?
    I’d probably skim over those conversations, too. It was annoying just to read your examples.

    Elizabeth’s photos are a beautiful addition to your collection. I like the composition of her daffodil photos.

    1. Thank you very much Merril. The church is very close to my house and so I look forward to returning many times

  3. Sadly, the use of local dialect in dialogue does not age well over time.
    I love Jackie’s photos of the cemetery, connecting the departed with their surviving loved ones.

  4. great post and the daffodils with Mary died int he frame is truly unique, moody, powerful, and just one heck of a photo – truly a story prompt if needed –
    thanks for the section on Hard Times – I will be back to read that more carefully (and so exited to do so)
    Also, Trent and I are reading Little Dorrit this spring and wanted to invite you (nd might invite readers through an official blog post – but wanted to mention it here while you were on the topic of Dickens –
    if so – here is the ebook link

  5. Vijf reacties maar … Ja, die komen nog … Charles Dickens ken ik wel, zoals ik zoveel schrijver ken, maar lezen is weer een heel ander verhaal. Moet ik de ‘cursiefjes’ van Simon Carmiggelt bloggen: Zulke leuke Amsterdamse humor!
    En, hij ging met Renate vreemd, is na zijn dood boven tafel gekomen, dat hij met haar contact had… Haar man was weggelopen, dus … Als hij nu nog had geleefd, hΓ¨ … Ja, ik weet het zeker. Hij had een rotkop, dat wel, maar als hij lief is, heb ik liever een lieve rotkop. In Hoorn zag ik zijn hele oeuvre liggen. “Dat neem ik mee,” zei ik tegen me man, dan hoef ik daarvoor niet meer te rommelen – op de rommelmarkt.
    Wat kon hij opeens hart lopen, zeg … * http://www.friedabblog.wordpress.com * Amsterdam, 16-1-2021, 21.30 uur … *

  6. I remember reading Hard Times in college. What stayed with me was the naming of Mr. M’Choakumchild and one professor’s telling us don’t even think of using this particular trope in your fiction. I agree with you that faithful transcription of a pronounced lisp is extremely annoying.

  7. You are blessed with an abundance of talent in your family when it comes to photography as well as other skills! Those illustrations are fascinating in their detail.

  8. I have enjoyed seeing all of these photographs today – Elizabeth’s daffodils win the ‘prize’ though! The copy of ‘Hard Times’ I read many years ago now didn’t have a single illustration: I would have thoroughly enjoyed reading a lavishly illustrated one such as you have.

      1. Thank you very much, Anne – it was definitely a lucky opportunity to spot these “in the frame”

  9. Flowers are forever keeping the company of humans, or is it otherwise? Some of those floral frames are extremely touching, especially the one on the memorial grounds. The portions from Dickens and Keeping in the feast are decidedly delicious, what with your hilarious interjections.

  10. The blooms of winter–your sweet periwinkle and pansies–are treasured amidst the seasonal dearth or color. My neighbor across the street has a much appreciated and prolific camellia bush.

  11. Just looking at the flowers…brings joy, warmth, and life on a cold day!
    All of the photos by all you photographers are wonderful! But…the daffodil photos are amazing! Thank you, Elizabeth! πŸ™‚
    Always a treat to see Mr. Keeping’s artwork!
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  12. Are the flowers considered “spring” blooms or are they simply hardy plants that carry on all year round? Amazing as I watch out my window the wind whip the fresh 25 cm of snow around our snow-dressed cherry tree. Your post reminded me of a much loved book on my shelves by Christopher Hibbert called “London: The Biography of a City” which has survived many book purges over the years wherein boxes and boxes of books were delivered to charity shops. Never, ever have I considered giving Hibbert’s book away. I pulled it down and started rereading it, thanks to your reminder.

  13. Your meal is one of my favourites, loved the flowers I can’t wait for winter’s end. Have you ever visited the Charles Dickens Museum in London? It was an excellent day out and good to see his writing desk and space, nice cafe too (oh I miss those days).
    Best wishes

  14. You have an impressive quantity of flowers still in bloom in your garden, Derrick. I particularly like Jackie’s daffodil shot in the graveyard. Reading written dialects is always a struggle, and that lisp would definitely get on my nerves very quickly!

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