What a party we gave Mr Dickens! Tuesday 7th February 2012 turned out to be a wonderful day! The Dickens statue in Centennial Park was the quintessential focal point of the celebrations for our man’s Bicentenary when about 120 members and friends gathered under very Dickensian grey skies.
Our celebrations included speeches from a variety of Dickens enthusiasts, a reading from our Book of the Year David Copperfield and a dramatisation of a scene from A Christmas Carol by the Riverside Lyric Ensemble. Members of Packemin Productions also entertained us with songs from Oliver, and we heard a poetry reading from Henry Lawson’s Gentlemen of Dickens beautifully read by Geoff Usher.
As well as several of our members, including Susannah Fullerton and Chester Porter QC making contributions, we were very pleased to welcome Nick Marchant, Director of the British Council Australia, Richard Morris, the British Consul General in Sydney, and Kim Ellis, Centennial Parklands CEO.
We were thrilled that our Patron Miriam Margolyes, in Sydney to launch her 2012 world tour of Dickens’ Women, was able to join us, delighting the audience with a short talk as to how Dickens had “irradiated” her life. She finished by reading from Dickens’ will which proved to be a fascinating document. While Miriam felt Little Dorritt was the best Dickens novel other contenders nominated Bleak House and Great Expectations.
A celebratory lunch followed at the Centennial Park Restaurant, during which the birthday cake was cut, Dickens was toasted in champagne and a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ was sung by all. Despite the fact that the sun wasn’t shining out of a clear blue sky nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of all who attended!
In the evening several members visited the theatre to see Miriam perform in Dickens Women. After the performance we joined the after-show birthday party in the foyer which made a most enjoyable finale to such a memorable day for Sydney Dickensians.
Happy Birthday Mr Dickens!!