Today would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday.
I’m not alone when I say that Roald Dahl stories have always been part of my life, in childhood & into adulthood. From my first story at bedtime right up to today, where I got up super early to get into the cinema to see a screening of the recent Steven Spielberg adaptation of The BFG & then spent the day with my best friend Tom marathoning his best film adaptations.
He’s always been close by too. He was born in Cardiff very close by to where my family live, & the pier side is decorated in plaques places in his honour, & he died in my hometown of Oxford. One of my most magical childhood memories was visiting the Roald Dahl museum in Buckinghamshire with my very first best friend Stephanie & being totally transfixed by it all.
The wonderful thing about Roald Dahl is that his creations have that affect on everyone! So today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite of his stories, in honour of Roald Dahl Day.
James & the Giant Peach
This is maybe my first memory of a Roald Dahl film & it TERRIFIED me. That rhino comes out of the clouds is up there in my top five most horrifying moments in tv as a child: along with the Winnie the Pooh VHS movie & that cardboard lion from the Teletubbies.
Fantastic Mr Fox
I thought I couldn’t remember this one all that much but then suddenly the song “Boggis, Bunce, and Bean one fat, one short, one lean. Those horrible crooks so different in looks are nonetheless equally mean.” came flying back to me & made me very, very happy. I’ve actually never seen the Wes Anderson adaptation with George Clooney as the fox himself but I really really want to, & will definitely find a way of seeing it some point soon.
Danny Champion of the World
I remember feeling more grown up for reading this story, where Danny & his father get a load of pheasants very drunk so they fall out of trees & can’t be hunted. It’s also my sister’s boyfriend’s favourite Roald Dahl book so that’s nice too.
When I was in year three my teacher Mrs Jones (who to this day is my favourite ever teacher) spent a couple of weeks reading this book to us for half an hour every day & we all loved it. She also ran something called ‘funky sock Friday’ where the person wearing the coolest socks got a prize each week, & I one week I won with my tortoise socks specially worn because of the book.
I also just watched the 2015 tv film adaptation today & loved it! It stars Dustin Hoffman & Judi Dench & hundreds of very talented tortoises & it was so lovely! Really elegantly done & just perfect really. Definitely worth watching.
I just remember being really scared of this book, but mostly because I hated the thought of how itchy the witches heads got. Also I wasn’t cool with them turning the protagonist into a mouse one bit.
I was never a huge huge fan of The Twits, just because I couldn’t put up with their horribleness at all. But I do adore this infamous quote from the book:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly.”
I think it’s one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever said ever.
The Giraffe & the Pelly & Me
This story is the one I always used to read to my cousins when I babysat them when they were a bit younger. I’ve read it over & over & never grow tired of reading the story of a boy, who came to live & start a business with a giraffe, a pelican & a monkey & the little adventures they get up to along the way.
I adore this story so so much, & oh my the film. I never owned it, but my best friend had it on VHS & I always wanted to watch it every time I was round her house. This was the main event of today’s celebrations with Tom & we loved every second of it, from the actors to the music to the fashion (oh my god those dungarees). Miss Trunchbull is one of the most terrifying villains from children literature & the older I get, the more I despise her.
I’m also desperate to see the musical so if anyone wants to buy me tickets that would be ACE.
Even though I was traumatised by the other giants, the BFG was always a favourite of mine. We had the original 1989 cartoon adaptation on VHS which was a massive treat & my sister & I would watch it on repeat; crying laughing over the whizz-pop song & hiding behind cushions at those massive beasts. The new love action adaption is gorgeous too, & Mark Rylance is an absolute sweetheart in the titular role. The new one actually nearly brought me to tears with how much heart it has in it, in front of all my new coworkers too who all still think I’m some what cool.
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
This will forever be the Roald Dahl story with the most meaning to me. Not only do I absolutely adore the Gene Wilder one & love Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket in the 2005 adaptation, but it was the first production I ever got a big role in. My year six school drama play was Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, & they’re some of my fondest memories of primary school; all of my best friends were in leading roles with me & it was the most fun experience of my life. I was Mrs Gloop, Augustus’s mother & I spoke in the worst German accent with a huge pillow shoved up my costume. That production was the first to make me feel like I had the confidence to play a character & I will always treasure it.
So that’s how I spent my Roald Dahl day. Thank you to him for providing me with so many happy childhood memories that will live on for generations. He truly was the world’s greatest storyteller & I hope he knows how much everyone loved him – & still does.