What a Pip!

4 Apr

Charles Dickens desk chair

The desk of the late, great Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations and many other famous English novels, has been found! And purchased for £780,000! That’s 1,156, 591.US dollars…and 80 cents.

The desk where I write is probably worth closer to the 80 cents than any other part of that monetary amount…but more than likely it will end up in a landfill somewhere or as kindling for some local fireplace because, alas, I have not written anything famous…except for that last word.

Dickens’ desk however, and accompanying chair (my apologies to the chair…for which truly has the greatest claim to fame? The desk upon which the paper sat or the chair upon which the author sat?) were purchased by England’s National Heritage Memorial Fund and the furniture will go on display at the Charles ­Dickens Museum, one of the author’s former homes in London, where he lived for two years.

More than 1,200 items and places have been preserved by the fund, which exists to safeguard England’s heritage. My desk should at least be famous to some of the members of my family. It’s where I have spent many a moment in my life… when I wasn’t paying any attention to them, that is, so perhaps infamous, would be a better word.

Still…we humans have a strange penchant for wanting to preserve that which we think or feel has some special meaning… for all time. Especially if it is old. The older the better it seems. And the older, the more venerable or holy the object or place becomes. Although sometimes what we think as valuable becomes less so, if even valuable at all, after we die. Then the value of said object or place is up to whoever gets to possess it after you.

In the case of Charles Dickens’ desk, what was once just a desk, where once upon a time a man sat and wrote, is now a million dollar work of art. Whereas my desk?…well, somewhere in the future, someone might be cursing the man who somehow managed to get such a giant monstrosity through such a little door…while they search the rest of the house for the old man’s axe.

But still…a million dollars for a desk!?!!!

Ah well, Somewhere the ghost of Charles Dickens is penning a new novel about poor, hungry, disenfranchised and homeless souls searching for a place to sleep and a crust of bread to eat while somewhere nearby in a large country estate, well-to-do official sorts, sit and discuss over hot tea and crackers how to spend over 1 million dollars on one single museum piece in order to..as the newspaper article so aptly put it, “save the nation’s best heritage in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK.”

Goodnight sweet desk: And £780,000 sing thee to thy rest!…You’ve now got it better than most.

2 Responses to “What a Pip!”

  1. emmylgant April 4, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    Perspective. …
    I wonder if a civilization on the wane is compelled to preserve objects that symbolize its perceived greatness.
    it has nothing to do with Dickens the man who had a social conscience. ..
    A food bank in his name would do more for his legacy. But that’s just me part of the 99%.

  2. hb April 4, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Does thsi whole business of placing a high monetary and emotional value on objects associated with famous people sound a bit like the medieval practice of venerating saints’ relics? Perhaps we’re not as rational as we like to think.

    I went to the Charles Dickens Museum a couple of months back – it’s quite a modest affair where they’ve tried to recreate the interior as it was when the Dickens family lived there. It’s very well done (well worth a visit) and the desk will fit in nicely. But, like you said – £780,000?

    It’s likely that the Heritage Fund isn’t allowed to give money to things like food banks – or perhaps they just lack the imagination.- it would, as you suggest, be a very fitting memorial to the great man.

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