I know I owe you a proper letter about Our Mutual Friend, and I’ve made good progress into volume two (and I’ve finally figured out who I’m supposed to be rooting for), but this evening I have a bone to pick with you.
It’s about clowns.
Now, I’m not alone in finding clowns more creepy and deeply suspicious than they are fun and entertaining. I would cheerfully watch any number of horror movies rather than be in the same room with one. But it wasn’t until I read this article on Smithsonian.com today that I found out that you, my dear, played a part in the creepification of the clown. This saddens me deeply.
Just when you think you know a guy…
Granted, I’m pretty sure you didn’t set out to unsettle unsuspecting circus-goers when you set out to write about the most famous clown of your day, Joseph Grimaldi, but it just goes to show you how the most benign things can take on a life of their own. A damned disturbing life, as it happens.
Which reminds me of something I saw for sale on Etsy a few months ago.
I love The Pickwick Papers even more than I dislike clowns. So you can imagine my distress when a search for “Charles Dickens” on that venerable online store brought me face to face with quite possibly the ugliest piece of pottery that ever claimed kinship with your popular book. Just look what Beswick did with the wonderful Sam Weller:
The scariest part of all? The damned thing was produced from 1935 to 1973! Do you know how many of those things must be lurking about in china cabinets around the world?? It gives me the willies just thinking about it. Please, someone, buy the damn thing already and stop it looking at me.
But it goes to show the remarkable popularity of the character, that just sticking his name on something so disquieting would make it sell for frickin’ decades. I can’t think of a comparable twentieth century literary character (who hasn’t had a movie tie-in) who has such a wide appeal or such a presence in popular culture. But seeing how frightening this is, maybe that’s not such a bad thing…
All of this makes reading about bodies being pulled out of the Thames positively cheerful in comparison, Charlie. So I’ll bid you a good night and return to the stories of Lizzie and Bella and Rokesmith and Riderhood and Boffin.
But I just might leave a light on tonight…
Affectionately, except for the whole clown business,