Entering Fagin’s Den
So we’ve moved into our first office, at 24 Greville Street in Clerkenwell. Everything’s new – from the fridge (there goes the first month’s budget) to the ‘phone (which I can only assume is broken, as it hasn’t rung yet).
But the building itself is actually pretty old. In fact, it’s mentioned in Oliver Twist, as the site of Fagin’s Den – a fact which some friends have suggested we should play up in our creds. Now, given the fact that Fagin was a grotesquely anti-Semitic caricature of a conniving, child-exploiting criminal, I suspect we won’t follow this advice. But the character’s creator, on the other hand, would be an excellent role model for us all.
You see, although Dickens is the quintessential Victorian writer, he also had all the traits that a modern creative company should aspire to.
He was a relentless innovator, both in terms of format (for instance, his pioneering of serialisation) and content (for example, his revolutionary use of dialect and slang).
He created big ideas that worked across all sorts of formats, from magazines to books, public readings to plays, cartoons to musicals and (ultimately) TV and film.
He championed great causes and made sure that his output was always opinionated.
He worked in real-time, exploiting the periodical publishing model to improve things as he went and using the public’s reaction as a guide (hence why the first 38 chapters of Oliver Twist contain 257 references to “the Jew”, while the last 15 have virtually none).
In short, he was a master storyteller: as commercially successful as he was creatively lauded.
Like I say then, not a bad role model. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if he hadn’t died 6 years before the invention of the telephone, his might have been ringing quite nicely. Might grow the old sideburns a bit more and hope that a tiny smidgeon of his luck rubs off on us…