By accident rather than design I was in Portsmouth on Tuesday, the bicentenary of Charles Dickens.  The people there are rightly proud of their most famous son, after Shakespeare perhaps the finest writer in the English language.

Dickens is not just one of our greatest writers but surely our most loved.  His imagination was seemingly bottomless and his ingenuity is a constant delight.  He even created the first fictional detective, in Bleak House.

It is a testament to his genius that his writing and acute social observation is as fresh as ever and, through his timeless novels, and the film and television adaptations of them, he speaks to us as clearly as he spoke to his first audience.

His novels can also be a source of good advice.  Perhaps the last Government should have paid more heed to Mr Micawber's words in David Copperfield: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

Dickens' first novels, The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist, were published in single volumes - as opposed to monthly serials - in 1837, the year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne at the start of her nearly 64 year reign.

On Monday, her great-great granddaughter followed her as only the second sovereign in the whole history of these islands to reign for sixty years.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee gives us all the opportunity to thank Her Majesty for being the still point in our turning world for so long.  Her steadfastness and devotion to public service is a humbling example to us all and she remains a loved and respected figure across the world.

One of the more moving aspects of the coverage has been the film footage of George VI seeing his daughter off to Kenya and waving goodbye to her for the last time.  We have to remember that, for The Queen, the celebrations will be tinged with sadness, as she remembers her beloved father's premature death at 56.

I look forward to marking this great anniversary with the whole country in the summer and joining in the celebrations in my constituency.

Christopher N Howarth