January To Think
“If I had my way, I’d remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.”
Roald Dahl is the author of many beloved children’s books. Stories created by him include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and many others. Did you know that he was also a poet, screenwriter, and wartime fighter pilot?
Dahl was born in Wales to Norwegian immigrant parents on September 13, 1916. Roald attended The Cathedral School, Llandaff. When he was eight, he and four of his friends put a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers at the local candy store. The store was owned by a “mean and loathsome” old woman named Mrs. Pratchett. The prank christened the “Great Mouse Plot of 1924”. The prank was christened the Great Mouse Plot of 1924 by the five boys and got them “caned” for their troubles. During the time between world war one and two, Gobstoppers were a favorite candy of schoolboys in Britain. Of course, we all know Gobstoppers and Everlasting Gobstoppers from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Roald went on to boarding schools where he did not have a great time. He wrote of his unhappiness and his dislike of the English boarding schools in his book “Boy: Tales of Childhood” and even though he wrote his mother he never mentioned his misery. Roald’s mother saved every letter and in 2016, the letters were broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week to honor the hundredth anniversary of his birth.
During his time in the RAF, he eventually was tasked with flying a plane 30 miles from one place in Egypt to the other. The journey was done in increments and on the last leg of his mission, he was unable to find the runway. Running low on fuel, Dahl was forced to attempt an emergency landing in the desert. His plane hit a boulder, crashed and Roald was severely injured. Roald Dahl suffered from a cracked skull, a broken nose, and temporary blindness. He recovered and went on to an illustrious career in the RAF. He wrote about his adventures as a military man in his first published work titled “A Piece of Cake“, in 1942. The story was purchased by The Saturday Evening Post for $1,000 and published under the title “Shot Down Over Libya” His story “Gremlins” was also influenced by his times as a military man as “Gremlins” were, according to British pilots, to be blamed for things that went wrong with the planes and equipment
He was not considered a very good writer as a child. Dahl was considered a much better athletic guy than a writer. As we know, however, he went on to become the author of many children and adult stories, always with slight plot twists. His children’s books and his adult stories all have a blend of humor and innocence. In his children’s stories, adults are often villains and treat children horribly. His adult stories all have a bit of the Macabre, dark comedy, and violent scenes.
Mr. Dahl died on November 23, 1990, at the age of 74 of a rare cancer of the blood, myelodysplastic syndrome, in Oxford, and was buried in the cemetery at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. He was buried with things that meant the most to him. He is resting in peace with his snooker cues, some very good burgundy, chocolates, HB pencils, and a power saw. Children continue to leave toys and flowers by his grave to this day.
“My teacher wasn’t half as nice as yours seems to be”
by Roald Dahl
“My teacher wasn’t half as nice as yours seems to be.
His name was Mister Unsworth and he taught us history.
And when you didn’t know a date he’d get you by the ear
And start to twist while you sat there quite paralysed with fear.
He’d twist and twist and twist your ear and twist it more and more.
Until at last the ear came off and landed on the floor.
Our class was full of one-eared boys. I’m certain there were eight.
Who’d had them twisted off because they didn’t know a date.
So let us now praise teachers who today are all so fine
And yours in particular is totally divine.”