for 25. 12. 2022

The single most intelligent virtuoso sentence I read this year was in an anonymous book review in late October in an offline, print-only publication.

The lives of the rich and beautiful are now smeared across the internet like a caviar skidmark, a constant, oppressive reminder to the poor of the things they can never have.

I looked at that page in the magazine again before I opened  A Christmas Carol a few days ago, as I usually do at this time of year.  The reviewer, I guessed, was almost certainly writing from a life far removed from the existence of the people he was worrying about. In this year’s browsing, Charles Dickens’ peerless capacity for doing that — after he survived his childhood — stood out in a grandly panoramic yet comical scene in a lighthouse in a rough winter sea, a setting that reminded me that thanks mainly to the pandemic, it has been at least three years since I was on the water’s edge. My

 H A P P Y   C H R I S T M A S 

wish for any reader who happens this way comes with my excerpt. Scrooge has been transported to a ‘black and heaving sea’ by the Ghost of Christmas Present.

To Scrooge’s horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land — a frightful range of rocks — behind them; and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled and roared and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the Earth.

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of seaweed clung to its base, and storm birds — born of the wind, one might suppose, as seaweed of the water — rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed.

But even here, two men who watched the Light, had made a Fire that through the loophole in the thick stone wall, shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog, and one of them — the elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather as the figurehead of an old ship might be — struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself.