It was Roald Dahl day this week and looking at all the fabulous photos of your Minpins dressed up as his characters on social media got me thinking about his books and all the lovely memories I have of turning the pages on his extraordinary tales.
Looking back I can see he played a massive part in my childhood, bringing me hours of joy as I lost myself in the fantastic worlds he created with his magical words. And what amazing words they are! Snozzcumber, Vermicious Kermid, phizzwizzards. To the untrained ear this is nonsense. To a fan this is a magical literary language that brings his alternate universes to life and still to this day creeps into my everyday speech.
The characters, slightly grotesque now seeing them through an adult’s eyes, were absolutely fascinating to me as a child. From a filthy man with a fish head in his beard to a witch who can smell small children at 50 paces.
How hilarious it was as a small child to read about whizz poppers and teachers using small children as shot puts. Ordinarily you would probably have been told off for even mentioning such activities. Dahl had no such qualms and gave us permission to laugh long and loud by writing about it down for our enjoyment.
We had a book club at primary school and I remember frantically checking the magazine we were sent home with and pestering my mum until I was allowed to buy his latest book. Borrowing from the library just didn’t cut it. I wanted those books on my shelf to read over and over. And that is exactly what I did.
It wasn’t just about the books. I remember Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine on Jackanory (I’m really showing my age now). Pre CGI, his voice and Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations brought the book to life. Mum wasn’t particularly happy when I tried to make a marvellous medicine “just like George” from various (probably expensive) items from her dressing table and the bathroom though.
My brother and I had a recording of the BFG on cassette. We would listen to it with my Grandad over and over again. He thought the whizzpoppers were hilarious as of course did we. How we all longed to taste and experience a bottle of frobscottle!
Later we got to enjoy the film adaptions of his books. Aside from the weirdly interpreted version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, I remember being quite terrified by Angelica Houston’s portrayal of the Grand Witch and rooting for Matilda as she battled the treacherous Miss Trunchbull.
I still have all my Roald Dahl books. They’re well read and a little worn and other books have come and gone
but these I’ve treasured and will be reading to my little girl as soon as she is old enough. We watched a performance of James and the Giant Peach in our local park recently which she was mesmerised by. I’m so excited for all that she’s yet to experience from these books. I’ll get to feel the magic again through her.
And now there’s a new book to add to the collection. Hooray! I’ve ordered a copy of Billy and the Minpins. I literally cannot wait to turn the pages and let the magic unfold once again.
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre are holding a weekend of Roald Dahl Day celebrations 16-17 September. They will be lots of activities including crafts, story telling , a magician and tours of the Roald Dahl archives. Why not go along and get involved.
I would LOVE to hear about your memories of reading Roald Dahl books or how you read them to your children now. Leave a comment and let me know your favourite book or character – there are so many to choose from!
Speak soon, Kat x