David Copperfield – Shallow review #2

So, David’s off at school, having the kind of time that Victorian kids had at third rate (and also first rate, I’m guessing) boarding schools, daily beatings, gruel and the like. But then lo, there is a call for him to go to the headmaster’s office, and he thinks this means a hamper has been sent from home, and he promises to share it with his pals. Oh, goody! Tuck! However, it turns out rather then a hamper, he’s given news his mother is dead. This is where Charles Dickens has turned up in a tipper lorry, and deposited an enormous mound of sadness and misery outside David’s life. It resembles a mountain of grey blancmange he’s really going to have a hard time getting through it. And not only is there no hamper, not only is his mother dead, but his new baby brother has perished, too.

David gets the coach home, and is met by an undertaker who measures him for his mourning clothes, and eventually David gets back to a distraught Peggotty, a brooding Mr Murdstone and a cold Miss Murdstone. An awful lot of sadness and darkess and sitting about the house happens, before he finds out he is not to go back to school, and for the moment, he will be allowed to visit the Peggotty houseboat, and finally the misery lets up a bit.

Barkis picks them up, and hits on the awesome idea of continuously asking Peggotty if she is comfortable, and then to make sure she isn’t, keeps shifting himself up to her, crushing her and David. Apparently this invading of personal space and squeezing the life out of a gal passed as courting, and bizarrely, at no time didi she lamp him one. By the end of the ride, when he had pressed himself up to her as much as is humanly possible and somehow not earned himself a restraining order, Peggotty asked David what he would think of her, if she were marry Barkis. David liked the idea as it means she will have access to a horse and cart and could visit him whenever she wanted, and she also liked this idea (it seems going with a lad because of his vehicle is nothing new) and announced he’s ‘good and plain’ (gee, reign in the hyperbole, Peggotty, why don’t cha, although she doesn’t seem the sort to fall for dangerous and hot) and so she agrees to marry him.

I shouldn’t be judging her, she’s not a young lady, and if I were in her position, recently unemployed in a time before the welfare state with a future of scrubbing flagstones ahead of me, I’d probably marry Barkis, too. I’d put up with crushed ribs and ‘good and plain’ if the alternative was the work house.

In the adaptation I’m absolutely going to get as it has Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith in it, Peggotty is played by Pauline Quirke. I’m sure she’ll be very good, and let’s face it, Barkis is better for her than that ex-husband who was in prison, back when she lived with her sister.