Wife Swap – David Copperfield Style

I’ve never actually seen an episode of Wife Swap, but I think by the title I’ve got the gist. And so I propose for an episode that Mrs Gummidge, the who refers to herself as a ‘lone, lorn creetur’ and constantly moans about how she feels all the problems of the world far more keenly than anyone else, ever, is involved. She is profoundly annoying, in spite of a comfortable life with nice people in the house boat of Peggotty’s brother, and I’d like to see her swapped with David’s mum, Clara. She’s also a bit of a wet weekend in Bognor, but would no doubt be happy with Mr Peggotty, Ham and Emily. More so than she is with the awful Mr Murdstone and his hideous sister that have taken over the Copperfield home, and sent David off to a school where he gets beaten a lot (as was the law at the time, I believe, as Dickens, the BrontΓ«s and anyone else who wrote about school tell us). I think Mr Murdstone has shown he can break Clara’s spirit, but when a spirit is like Mrs Gummidge’s, its strength is based on complaining and falling apart, he’d just be putting fuel on the fire, nay, huge pyre, of her self pity.

Meanwhile, on the cart journey from home to the station in Great Yarmouth, then onto school, the driver Mr Barkis has witnessed family maid Peggotty charge out the bushes and hug David, and give him money. He likes what he see, and asks David to write to her and let her know that ‘Barkis is willing’ which is Victorian speak for when lads today nod at passing girls and say ‘Yeah, I would.’ It isn’t romantic now and it wasn’t then, either.

When Davey comes home from school for the holidays Mr Barkis lets him know that Peggotty has not come forth as she should do in response to the notification that a man being willing (as if a willing man is a rare thing!), and that he is surprised by this. Honestly, men. Having said that, I was once subjected to an episode of ‘Snog, Marry or Avoid’ by my daughter, if I were to play that game with David Copperfield as a novel, there’s so many contenders for avoid I’d need to add additional categories of ‘Flog, Beat, Transport and maybe just have tea with’ to make it remotely honest, because Mr Barkis isn’t the worst by far.


David at the inn on the way to school, carrying what appears to be his mum’s handbag.

So ends the first of many very shallow David Copperfield reviews, apologies in advance.