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His family name being Evans, and his Christian name being Mark, he came to have a rather unremarkable name, which revealed nothing more than his Welsh origins and a parental lack of imagination.

His, firstly, was the northern town of Wrexham and later the hallowed halls of Cambridge University where, like many a dashing and promising young man with a joke or two hidden somewhere between his cravat and his tie pin, joined Footlights and, through heroic ingenuity which defied his quite average beginnings [probably], became president.

Throughout his younger [and most likely, tragic] years and despite his prestigious education, he remained fairly ambivalent towards the great Victorian writer Mr. Charles Dickens and it was not until after being presented with a dog-eared copy of Great Expectations on a cold, foggy night in a graveyard that the he fell in love with long, long sentences with very little punctuation and lots of fog in them and decided that not only was Dickens a bit of Ok, but also ripe for turning into a (at least six part long) radio programme and, just before the world needs Christmas presents, a spin-off book too.

The great unwashed of the many parishes in to which Radio 4 was piped, reacted kindly to Bleak Expectations. They chuckled at Pip Bin and chortled at Mr. Gently Benevolent, then raised a wry smirk to the school of St. Bastard’s before scoffing slightly in an overeducated manner at the inclusion of Wilkie Collins references.  In the westerly reaches of Somerset, one young maiden named Rosemary was known to let loose a laugh like a dog’s bark at the penny weekly named ‘Good Day Sir!’ and then blush silently into the dark, all alone but for the rising flood waters.

Mr. Evans grew to be a well-respected gentleman who frequently haunted the London corridors of British Broadcasting, sometimes only in order to tip his hat to Messrs Mitchell and Webb who were also known to walk up and down corridors frequently.  Mr. Evans’s preoccupation with Mr. Dickens grew and so, one year, did his mustache.  This, he admitted, may have been a mistake as the additional follicles presented the viewer with more of a cause to reference ‘Freddie Mercury’ than Mr. Dickens.  And whilst they liked him immensely and were secretly jealous of his frequent hauntings of the BBC corridors, his friends and acquaintances in 2012 became slightly puzzled by his reliance on the word ‘Alas!’ and its employment in text messages.  He did, however, stop short of adopting full frock coat attire; perhaps in part due to having witnessed a lecturer friend in Salford making this same mistake in front of his Victorian Literature students.

The world that Mr. Evans came to inhabit was one of confusion and disillusionment.  ‘The greatest surprise this year’ said he ‘is that Jimmy Saville turned out to be Pure Evil.  I think even the ghosts of Christmas past wouldn’t bother paying him a visit.  They would pass by, knowing he was beyond redemption.’

What made this bewilderment slightly easier was being able to return each night to his small, humble office where he penned by quill the first novel of Bleak Expectations.  Having originally envisaged the series in this format, but having then been distracted by the microphones of British Broadcasting, returning to the gentle scraping of the quill was a somewhat understandable endeavour.

‘The Book!’ declared Mr. Evans, as he bounded to his feet, letting the chair crash to the floor behind him, ‘will be thicker and better!’

‘Thicker and better!’ the cry rang out of his small, single-glazed, badly insulated, sash window and into the cobbled streets below whence it travelled west, swam through the flood waters and reached the ears of the girl with the dog bark laugh typing, as she was, with gloves on her hands to keep out the attic cold.

‘I am afraid,’ said she ‘that the dear readers of Epigram will have to wait until I have finished reading it and penned a little review to find out if it is any good. Until then they can go on BBC iPlayer or enter a competition to win a copy themselves.’

What that competition would be, the girl would not yet say, only suggesting they all kept one close eye on the Epigram Arts Facebook page and the other on their email inboxes.

‘It may well,’ she conceded, ‘leave you bent and broken, but hopefully only into a better shape.’

 

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