Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Roald Dahl 100

It would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday today.

When I realised what would have been his 100th fell on the same day as the 20th anniversary of the death of Tupac Shakur, I thought long and hard on what to publish today and decided on Dahl. There's a reason why and you can find out why I left Pac's post until tomorrow (that's what they call a teaser!).

Anyway, Roald Dahl was a big thing for me when I was a child. I loved his books. Him coming from Cardiff made it even more special for us kids growing up in the city.

I've written about it many times before - when I was a child, my father would send off letters to famous celebrities on my behalf and get signed photographs delivered to me. I had letters from famous faces from that era. They range from Ronald Reagan right down to err, Rolf Harris.

Roald Dahl didn't send me a picture. He sent me a letter. A letter thanking me for reading his books and that he too was from Cardiff (it was before I read 'Boy'). What really bugs me about this letter is it's the only one missing from my collection. I have everything that was ever sent to me apart for this one letter from one of my childhood favourites. It went MIA back in the early 1990s shortly after he had passed away. If I had it today, I would have certainly typed up its words.

I've been listen to a fair bit of BBC Radio Wales lately and they're currently asking people who their favourite Roald Dahl character is. There's no question in my mind who it is. It's Charlie Bucket.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favourite books as a child. It was read to us in the final year of infant school and I'll never forget the one day when Charlie was about to find the coin that would lead to him buying a chocolate bar and claiming the fifth, and final, golden ticket.

My teacher finished reading right near the spot where Charlie was walking in the snow (I think it was snow) when the bell sounded for home time. I wanted to know what happened next and remembered there a girl in my class named Laura who had either read the story (she was one of the brightest girls in the class) or had seen the movie (just in case the clever thing was a work!) so as we were getting ready to leave I approached her in the cloak room asking her what happens next. She told me he finds a coin.

'A Coin!?' The thought rushed through my mind. 'What is a coin going to do!?'

She then built up to him buying the chocolate bar with the money and then claiming the reward.

Nowadays, I avoid all kinds of spoilers (I'm typing this without knowing what the NFL scores were from last night) so it's actually funny to think back at how desperate I was to know how the story continues.

I think that right there proves how much of a master Dahl was. He was the king of suspense. Whether it be in his adult or children works.

My infant and junior schools days are filled with Roald Dahl memories. We did Fantastic Mr. Fox for a Christmas play one year (coincidentally, my nephew is in a Mr Fox school play today), read The BFG for reading (I thought it was called The Boofguh at first), went to see Matilda performed on stage and there's many more.

Many great memories thanks to his wonderful mind. The best thing about it is his work is still popular today, so it's reaching new generations. It has me wondering how my old school is celebrating this day.

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