I have always loved Bleak House and I have always found its opening chapter amongst the most powerful and satirical of beginnings. In terms of creation of mood, it is also there at the top. Dickens knew how to exploit repetition, in this case of a single word, to drive home his damning assault upon the English justice system. A description of London under fog follows a description of mire, in which people slip and slide. The fog is ‘everywhere’ and its ubiquitousness is confirmed in a panoramic sequence of memorable descriptive detail. It culminates, using a technique familiar to film audiences, with an ever-more-penetrating focus upon Chancery. ‘The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And, … at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor, in his High Court of Chancery. Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.’
I have read about and watched the unfolding disaster at the Beeb with all the horror of someone who discovers that a much loved member of the family (an auntie, perhaps) has betrayed that affection and regard. With obfuscation so widespread at the BBC, I fear that the corporation has become so leaden-headed that I cannot feel sorry for it. What the Dickens did it think it was up to?