We have always been Roald Dahl fans. And, after we learned of it, we hastily made plans for a day-trip to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, just outside of London, where the author once resided. (This picture comes directly from the museum website)
Our family opted to take London public transportation to our destination – we usually do. And on the overground train, at London Bridge, a women seated herself next to a man across the aisle from our family of five – five Americans, mind you. She noted us, immediately, and our accents. She leaned over to the man on her right, and said, conspicuously, “If I were to ever have children, I would teach them to speak properly!”
And what, pray tell, would connote proper speech? The use of such words as “gobsmacked”, “learnt”, or “bespoke”. Or is she referring to other words, such as “gobblefunk”, “swatchscollop”, “jiggered”, or “crodsquinkled”. Yes. These would do, for any proper Brit, I smiled to myself.
Especially one on her way to the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.
The museum was charming! Small, but full of life – the museum cafe, the shop, the activities offered, and the interactive displays.
We found a measuring stick. One that determined how we measured up to Roald Dahl’s characters. Bryant is just taller than The Trunchbull, and almost as tall as Grampa Joe. Give L two years, and he should be the size of one Oompa Loompa.
The children took turns sitting in Mr Dahl’s writing desk. When he was alive, Roald Dahl would sit in his arm chair, with his make-shift lap desk, in a white shed in his home’s garden. Only he was allowed inside, and he spent every day there, for three years, writing his marvelous books, getting lost in his magical worlds, consulting with his fantastic characters.
A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.
We walked from the museum, down the road, through a field, then up a hill, past hay bails and a rope swing, to where we could view the property and visit Roald Dahl’s grave. A large tree stood next to the gravesite, where you could sit for a spell. And then a handful of large concrete footsteps – the BFG’s footsteps – led to the headstone, itself.
Every week we ask the children to memorize something, in order to qualify for Friday-night Movie-night. Some weeks it is a song, some weeks a scripture or an inspirational quote. This practice – intentionally filling our minds with chosen words – is important to us. Said Matthew Cowley (1897-1953), “Inspiration will never elicit thoughts from an empty head.”
After over two years of weekly memorizations, we have many words under our belts. But, ask any of the children, and they will confess to this one being a favourite:
If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.
Roald Dahl, The Twits
And the children absolutely SHINE when they recite it!
Roald Dahl. He’s hilarious. His books are slightly unconventional – sticking school children in small boxes with spikes, verbally abusive family members, criminal heroes, and the celebration of candy. But he has brilliant one-liners! And some really cool messages masked in uproarious stories.
“My darling,” she said at last, “are you sure you don’t mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?” “I don’t mind at all,” I said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you.”
Roald Dahl, The Witches
A stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY.
Roald Dahl, Danny Champion of the World
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Never do anything in halves, if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy, it’s unbelievable.
Roald Dahl, Matilda
I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I’ve also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It’s sure to be a phony.
Roald Dahl, Danny, Champion of the World
I am quite sure I smile phony. At times, anyway. Sometimes I find myself smiling phony, hoping the happy emotion will follow. But, the longer I live, the more I feel inclined to change my heart, or my eyes, and let my lips and smile follow. I think that is the best way to go.