FESTIVE film The Man Who Invented Christmas is set to lift the lid on the modern origins of our 21st Century festivities in a special screening at Garway Village Hall next Tuesday night (December 12).

Part of the Arts Alive ‘Flicks in the Sticks’ programme, the film is set in 1843, when celebrated British novelist Charles Dickens is at a low point in his career with three flops behind him and his expenses piling.

Determined to recover, Dickens decides to write a Christmas story and self-publish it in two months. But his estranged father and mother come to bunk with him, and still haunted by painful memories of his father ruining his childhood by his financial irresponsibility, he develops a writer’s block.

He must face his personal demons epitomized through his characters, especially in his imagined conversations with Ebenezer Scrooge. And with a looming deadline, he struggles for inspiration against his frustrations and his characters’ opinions in a literary challenge creating the classic A Christmas Carol that would define the essential soul of today’s festive clebration..

Starring Dan Stevens, Jonathan Pryce and Christopher Plummer, the Garway sceening starts at 7.30pm, price £5.

Dickens had strong connections with the local area, with his literary agent and stage manager living in Ross-on-Wye, which he visited several times.

But as reported previously in The Beacon, it was more Bleak House at the Dickens’ Chatham household at Christmas 1869, as his Great Expectations of a festive feast were ruined when the turkey sent from Ross-on-Wye station by stage manager George Dolby burnt to a cinder in a fire on the train transporting it.

Dolby had sent a 30lb whopper, but when it failed to appear by December 24, an exasperated Dickens telegraphed: “Where is that turkey? It has not arrived!!!!!!!”

Christmas without turkey was a ‘no-no’ for the writer, who famously had Ebenezer Scrooge present one to the Cratchits in his festive story of redemption and celebration.

But the ‘magnificent bird’s’ failure to wing in caused Christmas consternation according to Dolby who wrote about the event in his 1887 memoir ‘Charles Dickens As I Knew Him’.

And he feared it may be ‘Yule gruel’ when racing off for the station he met a flustered-looking station-master James Rycroft who gave him the shocking news that the horse box rail carriage carrying the turkey and 12 hampers had gone up in smoke between Gloucester and Reading.

Dolby thought his goose was cooked, writing that the “value was as nothing compared with my distress of mind at the thought of Mr Dickens going without his turkey on Christmas Day”. He sent him an immediate telegram desperately telling him to find a replacement bird.

But while Dickens was no doubt left down in the dumps by the news, a recently discovered letter at York’s National Railway Museum written by the writer to rail bosses, says he ‘bore the loss with unbroken good humour’ as the incident was ‘unavoidable’.