Between the ages of 5 and 10, I lived with my parents in the city of Bath. I was sent to a school called Moorlands Infant School (later Junior), which claimed to be built on the grounds of the house where Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty, lived. The school logo was a stylised black horse, preparing to jump.
It was here I first discovered Roald Dahl. I don't remember which teacher read it to us in class; perhaps it was Ms. Telliere with her impossible to spell French name, or was it Mr. Peak, who always got angry at me for not wanting to write my weekend diary? I'm not even sure which Roald Dahl story was read, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was The Magic Finger.
I must have told my dad about it when I came home that day because the next thing I knew Dad came home with more Roald Dahl books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, BFG, The Witches.
In school we were thought to love reading, and I learned to love reading Roald Dahl.
My most important Roald Dahl memory takes place in 1989, right after the launch of Roald Dahl's last book of rhymes, Rhyme Stew, and about a year before he died. In conjunction with the launch, Roald Dahl himself had come to Bath, and here he was in Waterstones, signing copies of his book.
I remember there were a lot of people, and the queue to the table where he sat ran from the back of the store to the front, out to the street. I think he was in a grumpy mood that day, or maybe he was just tired having to sign all these people's books. When he frowned, his large forehead furled, revealing a huge amount of wrinkles. He was an intimidating man when he did that.
I still have my signed copy of Rhyme Stew. It's in a box somewhere in my mother's house, along with the rest of my books from childhood, but maybe one day, I'll be able to dig it out and read it again. Though I don't like the book itself as much as I do Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts, it still holds a special place as a memento of my meeting Roald Dahl in person.
I don't remember what I said to him that day, but I like to think I said something to the effect of "Thank you for giving us your stories, Mr. Dahl. Thank you for delighting us." And it's what I want to tell him today if I could meet him.
Happy Roald Dahl Day, everyone!
More on Roald Dahl: