One of our regular Christmas decorations is positioned under the glass of an African display table I bought in Finsbury Park in the late 1970s. It features our granddaughter Florence as Mary alongside Joseph in a Primary School Nativity Play.

I spent the afternoon completing my reading of my 1984 Folio Society Edition of Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son. Despite the emotional and practical difficulties in the author’s getting to grips with this work described by Christopher Hibbert in his excellent introduction, Dickens has produced what I have found his most engaging novel. I agree with Thackeray’s observation that “It is unsurpassed. It is stupendous”. All the writer’s descriptive skills; his humour; his flowing prose; his compassion; and his forward looking, come into play with a consummate construction not always apparent in other works. I was most impressed by the way in which he draws a large cast of characters together in the last few paragraphs as he brings the book to a complete conclusion. The lives are largely not happy ones, but they have credible participants, of which Florence is a key member. As usual I will refrain from giving any more detail in case any readers are tempted to tackle the tome.

Charles Keeping’s final septet of illustrations speak for themselves.

‘ ‘Sol Gills ahoy’ ‘

‘A burying-ground, where the few tombs and tombstones are almost black’

‘Nothing lay there, any longer, but the ruin of the mortal house’

‘He wept, alone’

‘Down among the mast, oar, and block makers’

‘Edith sunk down to her knees, and caught her round the neck’

‘The Wooden Midshipman’

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; firm Brussels sprouts; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.

Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

68 thoughts on “Florence

    1. Hi Liz I have to tell you that yours is the comment I go to 1st, to see if your choice of picture is the same as mine , 99% of the time it is! I’m quite shocked if you ever chose a different photo!

  1. Quite apart from the people portrayed in these magnificent drawings, I like the fine details of the buildings and – in this case – the ship.

  2. I’m always surprised by the memories your posts evoke. In this case, it was the very first word of the first scanned page: ‘cribbage.’ My dad and I played regularly, and I still have the board and pegs we used. A friend and I were trying to remember the rules recently, but all I could remember was “fifteen, two, fifteen, four — and a pair makes [something].” I always enjoyed it. I need to find another player.

      1. I wondered why two comments, and then I found the song. That’s just wonderful! Who knew there was a song dedicated to cribbage? Thanks very much, Derrick!

  3. That is the most beautifully unique Christmas decoration I’ve ever seen. I love how you describe Charles Dickens’ work. The illustrations of the man weeping and the one with Florence and Edith are powerful.

  4. One of my late favourite mentors of English Literature at the university used to say if you want to learn English Language read Charles Dickens. As it happened, I never progressed beyond David Copperfield. I wish I had paid attention to his precious advice while I still had spare time and the grey matter in my cranium was in its prime. Perhaps editions enriched with Keeping’s illustrations would have lured me into reading had they then been available to me. Those beautiful drawings along with Christmas decorations make for an excellent instalment.

  5. Lovely, Derrick 😊 I too found Dombey & Son so much better than I’d expected.

    (In case I don’t get back to your blog – or indeed my own – before Christmas, a very Happy Christmas to you and Jackie and to all your wonderful family πŸŽ„ x

  6. A lovely double Florence post, Derrick. That header photo is lovely–I could see using it to make an ornament.
    I haven’t read Dombey & Son, but you’ve made it tempting.

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