Today is Roald Dahl Day – a celebration of the children’s author who created so many iconic characters that frightened as well as delighted children everywhere, from Charlie and his adventures in the Chocolate Factory to the escapades of Matilda, from James and the insects of the Giant Peach to the cunning Fantastic Mr Fox. His partnership with illustrator Quentin Blake helped to bring these characters to life and ensured they remained stuck in the minds of those children as they grew into adults, myself included. This year the date of the 13th of September, Dahl’s birthday, falls on a Friday, leading to a good excuse to emulate some of the strange and mischievous things that his characters often get up to.
One of my favourite Dahl books is one that hasn’t been adapted for the big screen, and which features perhaps one of his lesser known characters – George’s Marvellous Medicine. This boy is certainly mischievous… I remember reading it as a child and hoping that George’s mean and grumpy Granny would get her comeuppance, after George brews a special medicine from all sorts of disgusting things to try and teach her a lesson.
I also loved Revolting Rhymes – a collection of parodies of traditional fairy tales, written in verse and given new grisly endings. There’s Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and my personal favourite, Snow White, in which Snow escapes the Huntsman and takes a job as a maid for seven compulsive gambling jockeys, steals the Queen’s magic mirror, and is then able to predict the winner of every race. Because after all, “Gambling is not a sin, Provided that you always win.”