“But the streets of London, to be beheld in the very height of their glory, should be seen on a dark, dull, murky winter’s night, when there is just enough damp gently stealing down to make the pavement greasy, without cleansing it of any of its impurities; and when the heavy lazy mist, which hangs over every object, makes the gas-lamps look brighter, and the brilliantly-lighted shops more splendid, from the contrast they present to the darkness around. All the people who are at home on such a night as this, seem disposed to make themselves as snug and comfortable as possible; and the passengers in the streets have excellent reason to envy the fortunate individuals who are seated by their own firesides.”
– Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz: “The Streets -Night”
Only on a dark, cold night, when every shadow becomes a ghost ready to haunt you, can you enjoy Charles Dickens’ works. It is 1 AM, New Year’s eve 2013 and every second passing feels like a lifetime. We settled down at Covent Garden Market, only the rain disturbs the deafening silence.
‘We are young and leave for Cardiff early in the morning anyway, we don’t need a hostel to stay at’ we told ourself a few weeks earlier. Now, every bone screams as the cold invades my body. As I read Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, to keep my spirits alive, my mind wanders back in time. With every shiver, my body brings me to the present day.
Meanwhile, other vagabonds joined us. Together yet alone, our concurrent shivering creates a temporary bond. Seconds turn into hours, hours become days, and I fear I’ll never leave this place, forever stuck in time.
Oh what a glorious new year.