A Party Political Broadcast On Behalf Of The Totally Honest Party

Wednesday 10th May

Hello.  We are the totally honest party, standing in this election not in the hope of becoming the Government, or even winning a seat or two but simply to let the British people know the truth.

Firstly this election is completely unnecessary. It was called for political advantage not for the benefit of the country.  The Conservatives keep repeating that we need ‘Strong and Stable Leadership’.  Well, we had that in Cameron and Osborne, but they have gone and been replaced by a different crew in the blink of an eye.  Hardly Strong and Stable.

This country took a decision to Leave the EU a year ago, and all commonsense has been washed away in the rush to fulfill that decision.  At the moment, we are in deep doo-doo.  In twenty years’ time we may well have recovered, though nobody will be able to accurately say how much it will have cost us.  But it will happen anyway and you the British people will pay, as you always do.

Health – the NHS is struggling to cope.  Nurses are leaving, costs keep rising as does the population.  The simple truth is that unless a lot more money is put in it will struggle to give even a basic service.  Social care is the same, almost all care homes are privately run these days and just as in Health the only way to increase profits is either to increase turnover by putting up your prices or to cut costs – and that means wages.  A recipe for disaster – just look at America.

Education – our children are our future.  If you want or even expect your kids to pay for your old age then start treating them right.  Give them a decent education, free schooling and free University – but that will all cost money.

Housing – is in crisis.  Youngsters cannot afford to buy and private rents are far too high.  The only solution is to allow councils, actually – to force councils, to build council houses.  Stop selling them.  Bring in rent controls and make sure all these private landlords pay tax, which many of them are simply not declaring.  Otherwise the situation will get worse and worse.  A decent place to live is a basic requirement for a civilized society.  But maybe you are happy for us not to be one.  The choice is yours.

So, what can be done.  Actually, not that much.  On our own, that is; together with other countries we might stand a chance.  Globalisation means that multinationals will choose the cheapest place to manufacture stuff.  They export poverty.  But there are a few things we can do to equalize things.  A fair tax system, a graduated income tax, increasing a couple of pence in the pound every ten thousand you earn would be a start.  Companies should pay a reasonable amount on their profits.  Dividends to Company Directors should be treated exactly the same as any other income and be taxed the same.  Build more houses, control rents, invest in schools.

But all of this will cost money.  And even though interest rates are very low, which they won’t be for long, we cannot keep on borrowing vast sums as we have done for the last ten years.  If we want a decent society all of us will have to pay more tax.  Simple as that.

I am amazed that any of you are still with us, because most people don’t want the truth, they prefer slogans and promises they know cannot be delivered.  Now, if you agree with any of the above there isn’t really a party you can honestly vote for.  Even Labour are making promises they will struggle to deliver.  But any of the progressives, the Libdems or the Greens or Labour are far better than the Tories, who have got us in the mess in the first place.

Thankyou and good luck.  You are going to need it.

The Brexit Election

Tuesday 9th May

You have to hand it to the Tories (but please don’t), they have turned this election into a second referendum on Brexit.  One can only wonder how so many Conservative M.P.s who were staunch Remainers can smile with glee when they declare that Theresa May will deliver Brexit from the dastardly Europeans; only months ago they loved Europe so much.  But this is the new politics, it doesn’t matter what you really believe or what you say one day or the next – winning is all that matters.

The problem with Labour is that they air their differences in public, and are perceived as really being Remainers, who want us to stay in by the back door.  And while this may be partly true, it is also true (or was until very recently) of the majority of Tory M.P.s.  Just before the referendum was announced most commentators were saying that it might tear the Tory party apart, as they appeared more split than Labour.  Of course had the vote gone to Remain that may have been the case, but Leave it was, and the main Remainers, Cameron and Osborne are now being rapidly written out of History, no longer M.P.s even.  And Mrs. May, who was supposed to be a Remainer grasped the chance to become P.M. by declaring that she was now Brexiteer-in-Chief.

But the whole thing is nonsense really.  Firstly the negotiations haven’t even started, let alone are we anywhere near knowing what sort of a deal we will have to swallow.  So there is still an air of Jingo-ism about Brexit.  It still simply means Brexit…and now even more reason to despise the Europeans.

And yet those who question just what sort of a deal (or no deal, which would believe me be far far worse) we may end up getting are branded as Sabateurs.  And so the madness continues.

And the real issues, such as the NHS crisis, the Social Care Crisis, the looming under-funding of schools are barely discussed.  All the Tories are saying is we need Strong and Stable leadership (by the way, didn’t they just change a Strong and Stable Leadership, and then turn the ship round 180 degrees?) and just look at Jeremy Corbyn…wink, wink, nudge nudge.

And just around the corner may well be looming another Recession…

At least I am in France and can escape some of this madness, though it may end up affecting my pension and possibly my right to live here.


Monday 8th May

So, in the end it wasn’t even a close-run thing – it was a walkover.  Emanuel Macron has won the French Presidential Election decisively.  And more important than that he has beaten prejudice, and racism and stopped the tide of nationalism dead in it’s tracks.  Marine Le Pen is charismatic, a good speaker, dynamic and powerful.  And her message was clear – “France for the French”.  But just as the question ‘Who are the British’ or more precisely ‘Who are the English’, stumbles on the reality of our multicultural society, the French, although I would say are more cohesive around their culture, it is still difficult to decide exactly who the French are.

Here in the South West there is a strong Spanish influence, and over to the South East it is Italian, whereas in Alsace-Lorraine even the town names are very German. The most remarkable thing about Macron’s victory is that he has come from nowhere, without even a party, without having really ever experienced public office.  Only a year ago he declared himself and his new movement ‘En Marche’.  And yes, in a way he was a continuity candidate, he was not from either the Socialists or the Republicans.  In fact the Socialists were all but wiped out in the first round and the party of De Gaulle and Sarkozy limped in third with barely twenty percent.  Are we in fact seeing the end of the party system?  In America Trump, though he campaigned as a Republican was hated by them, and they threw everything to try to stop him.  Here the Tories are only riding high because of UKIP who forced Brexit onto the agenda, and UKIP came from almost nowhere too.  Labour are deep in trouble, and it is possible that if they lose badly but Jeremy somehow manages to stay on as Leader, a new party of the left may emerge.

But at least we can now breathe a sigh of relief that the far-right has been roundly defeated her in France.  We will have to wait and see just what Macron will do, but whatever must be better than the anti-muslim, anti EU Front National.

There’s Always Something

Sunday 7th May

There never seems a time when there isn’t something.  Some niggling little (or large) problem, hovering (or looming) on the horizon.  And as soon as that is dealt with an e-mail arrives, or something in the post, or a phone call – and there is something else to deal with.  And we have to keep track of so many things, so many balls to be constantly juggling.  I can remember life in the Sixties, or when I first came to London.  I was paid in cash, in a nice little brown envelope with a payslip that was literally a long slip of paper – not that my wages varied that much.  And this was weekly, so you only had to make sure you had enough money to last until Thursday.  There was rent to pay, again in cash and paid on a Friday night.  A handful of shillings for the electricity meter and the rest of the money was yours.  Maybe you bought a weekly tube ticket on a Monday morning but sometimes you paid every day.  I used to get about £15 net a week.  My rent was £6.  That left £9.00.  You could take your girl to the pictures and to the Wimpy bar after and still have change out of a ten bob note.  So even after maybe buying clothes or some other essential you had roughly a pound a day for food and travel.  Fish and chips were only a few shillings – life was sweet.  Even my parents had council rent and electricity and a couple of insurances, again collected weekly to pay.  No rates, no water rates, no phone bill, no car bills, no mobile phone bill, no monthly direct debit for electricity and gas, no sky monthly bill either or any of those other items which constantly trip you up, and make budget calculations so hard.

And now everything is on-line.  But what a nightmare that is.  Tax is on line, booking flights on line, buying supplies for the café on line, renewing almost anything is now on line, your electricity bill is on line.  And all of that means you have to check your e-mails daily just to make sure you haven’t missed something.  And then there is always something.  Social media just as bad.  Birthdays cannot be missed now, unless of course you forget to log in to Facebook.  Too many tweets to read, too many Facebook posts to like…there is always something.  I suppose it may be possibly to simply switch everything off, the television, the internet, don’t open your letter-box.  But then sure as oeufs are oeufs there will be something you will miss.

T – is for Tangerine Dream

Saturday 6th May

This was one of those bands that emerged in the early Seventies, but Tangerine Dream were very different.   In fact as far as I can tell they were the pioneers of electronic music.  I had heard nothing quite like it, and even now re-listening to a few of their records, there is nothing quite like them.  I had bought one album of theirs I think when I saw them live.  They were, like Kraftwerk, a German band and at the forefront of the rapid developments in electronic instruments.  But this was years before portable synthesisers and samples and polyphonic chords were available.  I can remember that the stage was mostly dark and three or maybe four shadowy figures were moving around between large stacks of speakers and large organ-like instruments, lots of cables running everywhere.  The band members themselves only came to the front at the end of the show.  They played their first two albums straight through – Rubycon and Phaedra.  It was quite amazing, but unlike any concert I had been to before; no singing along as these pieces were strictly instrumental and no applause until the very end.   The records themselves have long been favourites, beautiful, almost vibrating notes drifting on and on and insistent bass notes coming in and out.

And ever since then I have been interested in ‘electronica’.  Terry Riley had already released ‘A Rainbow in C’, Tubular bells soon followed, Jean-Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk and Bowie’s Berlin phase.  Later we had a plethora of electronic music; Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada and Goldfrapp included.  But none of them seems to have quite entranced me as did those first two Tangerine Dream albums.  It may be an eclectic choice but they are well worth listening to.


Gunboat Diplomacy

Friday 5th May

I always loved History, or what we were told was History at school – from a very British perspective.  And one period of history we seemed to spend a long time on was ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’.  This was of course a misnomer, there was no diplomacy at all, we (the British) simply sailed ships to foreign countries, mostly in the Far East and threatened to blow them to smithereens unless  they gave in to our demands.  They say that War is the failure of Diplomacy, but often there is no real attempt at Diplomacy, it is simply a calculation that we are stronger than them so “Bang-Bang, You’re Dead.’  But this is no game.  As we saw in Iraq, even with vastly superior weapons America and the Allies (to our eternal shame a leading one was Britain) still sustained quite a few casualties.  There was no attempt at Diplomacy, simply overblown bravado from Saddam and bullying threats from us.  There never was any room for compromise.  Why would we want that, we wanted Saddam removed and our (or America’s) greedy mitts on all that oil.

And now we are leaving the EU.  And rather than talk, rather than negotiate, rather than see where we can agree and go from there; we have a Prime Minister accusing Europe of ganging up on us, of trying to stop our Brexit, of not being fair to us.  And in quite alarming language too.  But of course she isn’t talking to Juncker or Donald Tusk or anyone in Europe – she is trying to appeal to those voters who chose Brexit, trying to scare them into backing her, portraying the EU as an external threat – and only our very own Boadicea will save us from the raving lunatics over the channel.

This is gunboat diplomacy, conducted through a megaphone on a rolling deck as Admiral May rolls out the cannon and prepares for a broadside.  Which is no way to conduct a very complex and difficult negotiation.  She has managed to get off to a very bad start and it isn’t going to get any easier.  But this is nothing about Brexit, or getting the best deal for Britain – this is simply about winning the election.  At any cost.  Bang Bang – You’re Dead…


Thursday 4th May

‘Hey, Jane,’ Harriet burst into her sister’s bedroom one evening, ‘You’ll never guess. This is just too incredible for words.’ she blurted out.

‘What?’ Jane replied, sitting cross-legged on the floor, her record player blaring out the Who’s ‘Pictures of Lily’, as she turned the record cover over to read the tiny writing on the back.  As usual Jane just wasn’t listening to Harriet; she was totally engrossed in her records.

‘You will never guess who is coming to Stowmarket, of all places?’

‘Who, the Queen?’ Jane smiled up at her all innocently.  Jane was just learning the art of sarcasm, but would never really perfect it.  Not like Harriet had anyway.

‘No, not the Queen, dippy – but something just as amazing.  I’ve heard from John Jakes, you know his sister is in the year above us, and he heard it straight from the Carnival Committee, or from someone who knows someone on it anyway.  Pink Floyd are going to play at the football ground.  Yes, Pink Floyd of all people.’ she almost screamed with excitement, ‘Can you believe it?’

And yes Harriet was right.  Pink Floyd of all people, were coming to their tiny town.  Of course, they weren’t really famous then.  They had just released ‘Arnold Layne’ and it was getting played a lot on Caroline, but nobody outside of London really knew anything about them.  If the people on the Carnival Committee had known anything about them then it is pretty certain they wouldn’t have booked them either.  They were weirder than weird and at the forefront of all that psychedelic scene that was taking over in 1967.  The girls were just getting into caftans and beads and bells – and all that hippy stuff coming out of California, and here in England everything was getting quite strange and far out too.

*  * *

The day of the concert couldn’t come quickly enough, Harriet had made sure that Jane and her had tickets and were there really early.  There was a tiny stage built about five feet high at the lower end of the football pitch, opposite the one decent stand and there was a huge stack of speakers on each side.  There were these old wooden tiered seats down each side of the pitch that had been there for years and a ramshackle fence round the whole place.  No-one in Stowmarket had ever seen anything like it, the thing sold out in days and people were pouring in from Ipswich and Norwich and even further away.  The band were now in the charts with ‘See Emily Play’ and were far too big to be booked into a small town like Stowmarket, but still, they honoured the contract and actually turned up.  And Harriet and Jane met them, well were in the clubhouse bar at the same time as them, which nearly counts – surely.

Harriet always knew somebody.  Sometimes it was just somebody who knew somebody else but she was so confident she just smiled that dazzling smile of hers and they were in.  The club- house bar was supposed to be for the local bigwigs, the owners of the football club, the Carnival Committee and people like that, but somehow Harriet inveigled them both in there an hour before the concert.  They were completely surprised though when in walked the band themselves.  They were incredibly scruffy and looked only a couple of years older than them too.  You would have passed them by on any street, except they had a certain air about them, a quiet confidence and almost a swagger that marked them out as just that bit special.  Harriet walked straight over and introduced herself to them without a shred of embarrassment, ‘Hi, I’m Harriet and you must be the fabulous Pink Floyd.’  She smiled her most dazzling smile and held out her hand.  But they seemed not to really notice her, (probably wondered who on earth this precocious young woman was) and smiled politely before being called over to the other end of the bar to drink with a few men in suits, their managers and guys from the record company.  Looking a bit miffed, Harriet just shrugged her little shoulders and said, ‘Well it doesn’t look as though we will be singing backing vocals on their next single after all, does it?’ and she and Jane both collapsed in a fit of giggles.  That was it, their famous meeting with Pink Floyd.

*  * *

Harriet got her first fuck at that concert.   She had had too much to drink, which was unusual for her, as she could normally stop herself before she got too pissed.  But she wasn’t too drunk not to know what she was doing.  It just seemed right, the music, the lightshow, the moonlight, all those groovy people standing on the pitch almost stunned by the incredible noise the band were making, most of them just waiting for the two hit singles.  But Jane and she had already heard their album so knew the music would be something else entirely.  Harriet was quietly grooving to the riveting bass line when this guy suddenly hit on her.  Well, people were always hitting on her, but he was a bit older, a bit different.  He had really long hair and a biker jacket with badges all over it and she’d never seen him around.  Over the din of the band she caught that he was from Great Yarmouth and he had come on his bike, a brand new Triumph 750.  He had some dope with him and they smoked that behind one of the stands, leaning against the old wooden struts in the dark and as the stuff hit her and she began to go all woozy he leaned over and started to kiss her.

*  * *

Jane had lost Harriet somewhere on the pitch, they had pushed their way to the front and were only a few feet from the band, and it was/ really crowded, everyone pushing and shoving.  There must have been a few hundred people there, they weren’t allowed on the old wooden seats at the side, everyone was on the pitch itself, which ran slightly downhill to the stage.  This was Jane’s first real concert and she didn’t want to miss a thing.  There had been a few local bands at youth club dances, but they were amateurs who just ran through weak covers of the top ten, or tried to sound like the Beatles or the Stones.  This was the real thing, and though she had had a few drinks she had been pacing myself.  Harriet could always drink more than Jane and was looking decidedly drunk, or was it just an act?  You could never tell with her.  She was beside Jane when they started with ‘Astonomy Domine’ but she was so engrossed in the music and the light show, all squidgy bubbles projected onto big sheets behind the band, that she didn’t notice when Harriet disappeared.

*  * *

His hand went straight for her tits, and before she knew it he was hoicking up her skirt and rubbing between her legs.  She knew what was happening and that this was getting a bit serious but somehow she was up for it. It seemed just the perfect time and place to get your first fuck.  She didn’t even know the guy’s name, which in a way was an even bigger turn on.  In no time he was inside her and pushing hard, ‘so this was what everyone went on about’ she thought to herself, ‘this is fucking’  And with each plunge into her it was getting better.  It was dark by now, but not really dark.  You could see people moving about in the shadows, which only made it more exciting.  If only they knew what we were doing. she thought.  The music was still loud and she could feel the vibrations through the wooden struts she was leaning against, each snap of the drum in time with biker-boy’s thrusts.  But the most exciting thing was being out here in the open, as the cool air splashed all over her breasts and as he grabbed her bottom and pulled her onto him she lifted her feet off the ground and wrapped them round his thighs.

She was so turned on and ready for it.  She had come close once or twice, being felt up in some bedroom at a party and had really wanted to do it.  But she always knew the guys, and there would be the inevitable relationship stuff to follow, as if you couldn’t just do it and walk away, that would be her ideal.  She had no time for a ‘boyfriend’ and all that schmaltzy lovey-dovey stuff.  That was for other people, she didn’t want the hassle, the misery of putting up with a boyfriend – all that possessiveness. she didn’t want to belong to anyone.  So, that was it, her first time; behind the football stand as Syd Barrett was singing ‘Careful with that Axe Eugene’ and her little sister was somewhere up front totally absorbed in the music, here she was getting it standing up from a total stranger in a leather jacket with her skirt hoiked up around her waist and her knickers yanked to one side.  How exciting was that?

*  * *

The concert was fabulous.  Hearing the music live was so much better than the records, and some songs just seemed to go on forever, the music spiraling off in all directions and then returning time and again to the songs Jane knew.  She now understood what they meant by mind-blowing.  She had thought listening on her Dansette was fantastic, but now she heard it live it was like a different dimension had suddenly appeared.  The projected lights were incredible too, and quite hypnotic, drenching the stage and the band in ever expanding bubbles, splodges and splashes of coloured light exploding everywhere. Then suddenly it was over.  With no announcement at all the band were walking off the stage and the lights went out.  They were in absolute darkness and there was just a touch of panic was in the air, nobody really knew where the exits were, and she was being swept along by the crowd, and as Jane looked desperately around there was Harriet back at her side.

‘Hi, little sister.  Wasn’t that the most fantastic thing that ever happened in your life?’ she screamed at her.

‘Yes, I can’t believe it’s over.’ Jane replied grabbing her hand as they were pushed along by the throng of people.  ‘It all seemed too quick somehow.  Where did you get to, I thought I’d lost you.’

‘I just had a little walk around the place, you know.  I wasn’t far away.  You know that don’t you.  I would never abandon you Jane.  I always keep an eye out for you.’

Of course Harriet told Jane a few days later and she was so shocked.  ‘You mean you didn’t even know who he was?’ Jane said. ‘God Harriet, I can’t believe it?  And it was your first time too.’

‘Yeah well – first of many I expect.  Just remember Harriet, got to make it special.  That first time; make it special’ and she laughed at the very idea, ‘Now you can really say I am your big grown-up sister.  And Jane, don’t go getting any ideas in that direction yourself.  You are only fifteen, and that is far too young.’  And she gave Jane a long old-fashioned look, as if she were some ancient aunt peering over her pince-nez.

‘I wouldn’t dare.  Not with a stranger anyway, Harriet.’ And Jane looked up at her with such a look of admiration in her innocent little face.  My little sister Jane, ah what would become of her when she went off to University.  How would she ever be able to cope without Harriet looking after her.  She would probably end up with some local lad and get stuck down here in Suffolk and have lots of kids and stuff.  Not for Harriet though.  No-one would tie her down.  She expected to go places, and she intended to take her fun where she found it.   ‘Look out world, here I come.’

The Summer Of Love

Wednesday 3rd May

1967 and I was just 16.  I barely knew what love was, but I was in love with the music and the slogan ‘Make Love Not War’. Everything was changing, Fashion, Art, Cinema – and of course Music. The Beatles were this fantastic vehicle for absorbing new ideas, turning them into their own and bringing them to us, fresh and sounding so original.  In 1966 they had released Revolver, and all the elements of psychedelia were already there, the tape loops, the ‘flanging’ as John called it and the Eastern influences in George’s sitar.

But it was really in America and California that things were really happening.  New bands like The Doors and the Electric Prunes and Zappa’s Mother’s were emerging every week. We knew nothing really until Scott MacKenzie’s brilliant “If You’re Going To San Francisco” hit the airwaves.  Then The Fab Four released Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields (the ultimate in sublime weirdness) and in June came the album “Sgt. Pepper”.  I didn’t even have a record player, but can remember Kenny Everett playing the whole album on pirate Radio London just before it was released.  We even had a school dance and the album was played there too.  Incidentally Radio 1 began the day after, with Tony Blackburn playing The Move’s “Flowers In the Rain”.  For some amazing reason Pink Floyd, just before they became famous, were booked to play at Stowmarket Carnival.  It was mind-blowing, the rudimentary light show, everyone in caftans and bells listening to ‘Interstellar Overdrive” at full volume.

It was the best of times.  And even if many of the records of those days do not really hold up fifty years later, and the term ‘hippy’ is now used with derision – I was proud to be a hippy, even if only a schoolboy hippy.  I will never forget that wonderful year, which did more than anything to develop my tastes and acceptance of new music. And the ideas of 1967, music festivals, light shows, tie-die t. shirts, candles and incense have all become mainstream – along with acceptance of race and gender and the anti-war movement. And if I get a chance this summer I will wear some flowers in my hair too…hahaha

Changing The World

Tuesday 2nd May

In my teens I was certain that I was going to change the World.  Quite how was not clearly defined; maybe a as pop-star, though I was tone deaf; an artist was an idea & I did continue drawing and painting for years but was hardly breaking new ground; a film actor was a definite possibility – I just had to be discovered…

But as my twenties arrived it was Politics my ambitions coalesced around.  I joined Finchley Labour Party and soon became heavily involved; constituency secretary and standing as a candidate for the local council (failed).  I met Thatcher a couple of times, she was my local M.P.  I went to Conference twice and met and invited both Tony Benn and Michael Foot to Finchley where they both spoke.  I had dreams of becoming an M.P. myself, and could possibly have got that far if I had stayed the course.  But the personal tragedy of the break-up of my marriage to Joy so overwhelmed me that I withdrew into myself and left active Politics in the early eighties.

I never quite lost that dream though.  But I am now no longer sure that the biggest changes come from conventional Politics.  It is people’s ideas and convictions that have to change first.  Mine have never really faltered, though I am often disappointed that the very disadvantaged people I and my party are desperate to help are so easily seduced by personal greed, perceived self-interest and celebrity.

I watched an interview on Sky with Blair, he was saying that the old divisions of left and right were meaningless in the 21st Century.  Maybe he is right.  At times it is easy to get despondent; Brexit and Trump and all – but we all change the world every day in everything we do.  Those ideas forged in the Summer of Love are still potent 50 years later.  And you reading this blog has changed the World a little bit.  But most dangerous is doing nothing which allows others to change the World at your expense.

David Copperfield

Monday 1st May

I have been reading Dickens.  As a child my Nana had a set of Dickens and I think I read Great Expectations and David Copperfield and probably Oliver Twist too.  And through the years I have seen quite a few TV adaptations and films of David Copperfield.  So, I knew, or thought I knew the story pretty well….The Murdstones, working in the bottling workshop, his Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Dick of course, and Peggoty too.  But I had forgotten how lovingly the book was written, in part auto-biographical it has a warmth that oozes out of every page.  And though there are the villains Steerforth and Uriah Heep, they aren’t really that villainous.  Steerforth has a violent end but at the hands of nature, not our hero.  And Uriah Heep is so comically rendered that you cannot help but admire Dickens’ skill in painting such a vivid portrait.  Who can ever forget those words “ever so ‘umble”.

There are the usual helpings of sentimentality, laid on thick with a trowel, but we must remember the audience which Dickens was writing for.  But the real tragi-comic masterstroke is the creation of Mr. Micawber, with his florid language, his mood-swings and optimism that ‘something will turn up’.  Micawber and his loving but critical wife and the brilliantly original Mr. Dick brighten the story in so many ways that without them the book would be just average.  We mustn’t forget either the minor characters, Tommy Traddles, Dora, Jip, Betsey Trotwood, Rosa Dartle, Mrs Gummidge and Ham and Mr. Peggoty, Peggoty herself and even Barkis are all wonderfully drawn.  As Dicken himself wrote in a much later Author’s Note it was his favourite book, and I too was sad when I came to the end.  Sad to leave behind such a host of wonderful characters.