Wisbech & Fenland Museum

This shabby shape is not the real me.
Imagine, please, neat-knotted round my throat,
A silken scarf beneath my winter coat;
Not vulgar. I will give to charity,
Perhaps. My wealth won’t make a change in me,
Though change no longer has the need to float
In sweaty fists. A mansion with a moat
And helipad? My finer self’s beneath
My iceberg graph of debt outlined in red:
Under the waves, its bulk a reassuring
Black. You’ll understand, I’ll have to learn
New ways. I scrape the scratchcard foil and shed
My old abandoned skin. A roar of falling;
A belching jackpot, gold with unconcern.


Elaine Ewart Fenland Poet Laureate 2012.


‘Mr Micawber’ from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
Sketch by Frederick Barnard, 1884.

‘Money is a great preoccupation in Dickens' novels. In his childhood, Dickens himself experienced the trauma of his family falling into serious debt, and famously endured a period of drudgery, working in a blacking factory, which had a profound effect on him in later life. In Great Expectations Dickens takes a practical view of the way a person's financial position dictates their opportunities. He does not idealize or demonize the possession of riches but explores the moral, social and psychological aspects of getting, spending and giving money. In today's economically uncertain times I think Dickens' unsentimental approach to wealth and poverty strikes a chord we can all recognize’.