Dickens meets Tolkien?

I was absent-mindedly perusing the internet recently when the following headline caught my eye:

Tolkien and Dickens grandsons join for book

I don’t wish to seem overly vulgar, nor do I want the integrity of my digestive system to be called into question, but upon reading those words I more or less shat all over myself.

“The heirs of Tolkien and Dickens collaborating on a book?!” I thought, giddy as a girl with a new pair of shoes. “This will unquestionably constitute the best thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind!”

Considering the importance bestowed upon this story (situated, as it was, in a prominent section of the BBC website usually reserved for the violent exploits of jihadists, or stories heralding the inexorable spread of some chicken-borne disease across the Orient) and the singular grandness of its headline claim (“join for book”), I naturally assumed that some seriously major literary news was afoot.

In fact, I freely admit that I anticipated nothing less than a Dickensian yarn set in Middle Earth. As a result, story ideas flashed across the fertile floodplains of my mind, like young colts legging it across a fecund meadow.

One of the ideas I formed in my mind was a story called Norris Nutwell. Here follows a short synopsis:

On one of the wealthiest levels of Minas Tirith, the Witch-king of Angmar (posing as a humble cloth merchant named Percy Bumblewick) has tricked naive young hobbits into his employ and indentured them into low-paid and dirty work as chimney-sweeps. The maltreated hobbits endure a miserable existence, sleeping side-by-side in potato sacks on the cold floor of a draughty stable and shimmying up chimney-flue after chimney-flue for naught but a bowl of gruel a day. They dare not complain, lest they feel the bite of Ma Bumblewick’s wooden spoon on their bare backsides.

One day an opportunistic orphan hobbit named Norris Nutwell escapes this misery and makes his way out of the city, stowing away on a merchant vessel destined for Belfalas. After the ship capsizes during a storm, Norris comes ashore on the island of Tolfalas where he befriends Plumm’s Players – a troupe of mummers exiled to the island for causing offence to the King of Gondor in a risqué retelling of the Fall of Númenor.

Meanwhile Mr. Bumblewick has contracted Bentham, Bentham & Brick – a firm of unscrupulous private investigators – to locate Norris and fetch him back. Led by the fearsome Barnaby Bentham, a pencil-thin Dunlending, they will stop at nothing in the hunt for the young hobbit.

The scene is set for a Dickensian tale of adventure and intrigue, involving many unlikely coincidences, hilarious descriptions of poverty, and the inherent heroism of boys with dead parents.

When I later remembered to go back and read the content of the article, I was so disappointed I went to bed in a huff at 8pm, heedless to my mother’s pleas to go and pick my elderly grandfather up from that laughably-termed “exercise” class he goes to in a futile attempt to stave off another heart attack.

The story turned out to be a complete waste of time; a piece of empty filler written to bulk up the pitiful output of the BBC and annoy us celebrated web sages by dangling a carrot in front of us that, upon further inspection, reveals itself to be a malodorous rotten parsnip, painted orange and stained with deception.

According to the article:

Poet Michael Tolkien, the eldest grandson of the The Hobbit author, will write two novels based on stories his grandfather read to him as a child. Gerald Dickens, the great-great grandson of Charles, will narrate the audiobook versions.

What a non-story. What an utterly misleanding headline. I hereby submit a revised headline for this piece:

Bloke named Dickens to narrate some mawkish shite penned by latest Tolkien pretender

That at least is accurate.

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