Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

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:


  1. My favorite is Matilda, she's the character I would always want to be. Not that I have bad parents, haha.. but you know, who wouldn't want to be that cute little genius with magic power.

    By the way, Bath is a very beautiful historical city. Wish to go there someday.

  2. Yes, who wouldn't want to write messages on the blackboard using telekinesis to scare your teacher?

    Funnily enough, the Matilda's parents are reflective of many Malaysian parents, don't you think?

    Bath is a beautiful place. I would like to return there someday too.

  3. This is so lovely. I am so influenced by Dahl like you wouldn't believe. I actually study him.

    My fave is Man from the South.

  4. Actually it isn't so unbelievable, Xeus... Dark City has a lot of Dahl-esque twists! :D

    I don't have a fave myself... because I'm so in love with a lot of his stories. I've been too close to them for nearly 20 years now I can't help but like too many of his stories!

  5. Wow..what a strange coincidence...your teacher's name is the name of a character in Guy de Maupassant's short story "Madame Tellier's Establishment". Hmmm...the fate of the world is indeed bizarre... Shu

  6. Haha! That is a coincidence! I assume you've just been reading it?

  7. Yeah..which was obviously why it was a strange coincidence (dun dun dunn!!) But then again, coincidences are always strange.

  8. bath memang cantik. bath sekarang lebih semacam sebuah kota buat pelancong, tapi tetap cantik.. dah pergi lawat rumah Jane Austen?

  9. Tak rasanya. Masa tu saya lebih berminat dengan tempat mandi orang Roma. Hmm... sekarang pun saya rasa lebih minat Roman history daripada Jane Austen sebenarnya.


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