There have been three stories regarding the cultural history and social life of England on the Internet this week, and all three tie together into a nice little package.
Central to the collection was an item about Prince Harry and soccer star David Beckham having a boys' night out at a member's-only watering hole in the Mayfair District of Central London. They were spotted at a newly renovated bar called The Arts Club - which was founded in 1863 by novelists Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. Apparently it was the second time that this pair of celebrities, Harry and Beckham, have hung out there - until three in the morning!
And then yesterday, February 6th, Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee as Queen. She has sat on the throne for sixty years and still looks constipated. (Did I just type that?) Elizabeth II is the second-longest reigning monarch in British history, close behind Queen Victoria who held the position for sixty-three years and change. The current Queen's mother lived to be one-hundred-and-one, so there is a good chance that Elizabeth, who is currently just eighty-five, will break Victoria's longevity record for throne-sitting.
If I could ask Queen Elizabeth one question, it would be this: "Your Highness, if you had it all to do over again, would you have reproduced?"
Seriously the Queen is loved and well respected by her loyal subjects and her children. Why just last summer her daughter-in-law, Camilla, the Duchess of York, adopted a Jack Russell terrier from the pound and named her Beth!
Today, February 7th, marks another very famous British milestone. Charles Dickens, the novelist and co-founder of The Arts Club, was born two-hundred years ago today. I came across the results of a survey conducted by Penguin Books asking which of Dickens' nearly nine-hundred fictional characters was the reader's favorite. Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol won big, followed by Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, Sydney Carton of A Tale of Two Cities, The Artful Dodger of Oliver Twist and Fagin of Oliver Twist. Little Oliver Twist himself came in at number eleven.
My favorite Dickens character was the "very 'umble" Uriah Heep of David Copperfield. While the gangly and cadaverous Mr. Heep was a bit conniving and sinister, he was certainly no match for villainous of Ebenezer Scrooge in his prime. But I just like the sound of his name. "Uriah Heep!" It literally just rolls off of the tongue! I understand that there is a band called Uriah Heep, which is great, but I would like to see Charles Dickens further honored by parents starting to use that wonderful name for their offspring.
"Uriah Heep Johnson! Get your butt in here for dinner!"
But, alas, that would probably be a bit too literary for our modern world!