Book Review: Mrs Scrooge

Mrs Scrooge FB

Scrooge doornail-dead, his widow, Mrs Scrooge, lived by herself in London Town.

This will be a short review because it’s a short book, though stuffed full of tasty bits like an excellent Christmas pudding. Carol Ann Duffy is our poet laureate, who has well and truly broken the mould of this venerable institution, “the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.”

In Mrs Scrooge, Duffy takes that unseen heroine – who knew Scrooge had a wife that could put up with his penny-pinching ways? – and gives her A Christmas Carol of her own. Mind you, Mrs Scrooge can pinch a penny till it screams for mercy, but she cares for the planet and campaigns against consumerist excess. She also has a cat – I don’t imagine Mr Scrooge would have seen the point of feeding a cat unless it paid for itself in dead mice.

This curious melange of Dickens’ novella and current ecological concerns means that the Fezziwigs, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim are all part of of the story, along with feminism and the patchwork of villages buried under the concrete of Heathrow Airport. It’s held together by Duffy’s poetry, Mrs Scrooge’s surprising love for Ebenezer Scrooge, and Posy Simmonds’ illustrations.

A lovely, heartwarming story, with the same belief in human goodness as A Christmas Carol.


Poem of the Week: Politics

Carol Ann Duffy’s first poem as Poet Laureate, disproving a prejudice I’ve always had – that poetry about politics is never worth reading. This one was written in response to the MP’s parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009. What makes it poetry for me is that it’s about so much more – the nexus of power and humanity.


How it makes of your face a stone
that aches to weep, of your heart a fist,
clenched or thumping, sweating blood, of your tongue
an iron latch with no door. How it makes of your right hand
a gauntlet, a glove-puppet of the left, of your laugh
a dry leaf blowing in the wind, of your desert island discs
hiss hiss hiss, makes of the words on your lips dice
that can throw no six. How it takes the breath
away, the piss, makes of your kiss a dropped pound coin,
makes of your promises latin, gibberish, feedback, static,
of your hair a wig, of your gait a plankwalk. How it says this –
politics – to your education education education; shouts this –
Politics! – to your health and wealth; how it roars, to your
conscience moral compass truth, POLITICS POLITICS POLITICS.