Jeremy Vine asked the public on his Radio 2 show to share their favourite passage from Dickens to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth today. I thought I'd share one of mine on this blog. I read Oliver Twist last month and noted in the review that I particularly enjoyed Mr Bumble's flirting with Mrs Corney. My favourite passage from that novel comes at the end of chapter twenty-three.
"Mr Bumble's conduct on being left to himself, was rather inexplicable. He opened the closet, counted the teaspoons, weighed the sugar-tongs, closely inspected a silver milk-pot to ascertain that it was of the genuine metal, and, having satisfied his curiosity on these points, put on his cocked hat corner-wise, and danced with much gravity four distinct times round the table. Having gone through this very extraordinary performance, he took off the cocked hat again, and, spreading himself before the fire with his back towards it, seemed to be mentally engaged in taking an exact inventory of the furniture." (p210)
I don't know why I love it so much. Perhaps it's the image of Mr Bumble putting his hat on especially to dance around a table. Whatever the reason, when I think of Oliver Twist, I don't think of the orphan or Fagin or the Artful Dodger - I think of Mr Bumble and his spoon-counting.
Happy birthday, Mr Dickens!