Bet you didn’t know that Charles Dickens wrote a Goblin Christmas Story did you? Most people’s knowledge of Charles Dickens’ Christmas or even Charles Dickens himself is a Christmas Carol and people don’t realise that Christmas was Dickens’ brand.
Most authors only find commercial success after their death but Dickens was regarded as national treasure for nearly thirty years of his career. He released a Christmas story every year with a regularity that bored contemporary commentators that remarked his presence was a predictable as a Christmas panto. The Chimes is the second of his Christmas tales cum morality stories that he published over a series of years. Another take on the ‘this is what will happen if you don’t do better’ style so iconic in Christmas Carol, The Chimes is a story of working class man Trotty despairing over his class and wondering if mankind has any virtue on Christmas Eve when his daughter Meg comes to him to beg for his blessing to marry. He grudgingly accepts but Meg is insulted by a pompous alderman who suggests the poor do not even have the right to exist.
Depressed, Trotty goes to the Bell Tower and sees the bells rung by their Goblin attendants who show him what life would be like if he and his loved ones gave up the fight. The usual Victorian lamentations of woe follow in a way that would make the Ghost of Christmas Future proud. Trotty sees the error of his ways and the world is right again.
Why has this not received the cult status as its predecessor? Maybe because its more macabre and sinister, maybe because it doesn’t have the simple charm of Carol or any characters sympathetic to a mawkish modern sensibilities like Tiny Tim. Or maybe because people don’t like to be reminded that not all poor people are dossers.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without class warfare.