Amidst reading books on tragic everyday day themes, it’s healthy to spare a few moments to read a light hearted classic from childhood and what better way to cure nostalgia and a longing for beauty than to delve in some good old Roald Dahl (the editions illustrated by Quentin Blake only!)
This autobiography is nothing short of magical and as appealing to my twenty-four year old sensibilities as it was to me eleven years ago. Dahl takes us to Norway’s fjord, then traverses to England and lastly, albeit briefly, to Africa. We stop by at his house, are introduced to his vast family and with them we take vacations off to Norway on the family boat.
Later we are tormented by the English masters at one of many Dahl’s institutions, the swish of a cane on our beloved writers’ buttocks as a child were painful to read and so was the account on bullying by Boazers.
The old photographs accompanying the text add a touch of familiarity to the book. I found myself constantly zooming in on them, trying to identify Roald Dahl in a group of students, or deciphering his letters to Mama.
It was a quick and much cherished stroll down memory lane with Mr. Dahl at my side.
- If my grandfather had been alive today he would have been one hundred and sixty-four years old. My father would have been one hundred and twenty-one. Both my father and my grandfather were late starters so far as children were concerned.
- I was in the La Rochelle house a couple of years ago and it really is something. The furniture alone should be in a museum.
- Being a fellow who knew a good thing when he saw one, he proposed to her within a week and married her soon after that.
- His theory was that if the eye of a pregnant woman was constantly observing the beauty of nature, this beauty would somehow become transmitted to the mind of the unborn baby within her womb and that baby would grow up to be a lover of beautiful things
- All grown-ups appear as giants to small children
- The boat weaves in and out between countless tiny islands, some with small brightly painted wooden houses on them, but many with not a house or a tree on the bare rocks. These
- An English school in those days was purely a money-making business owned and operated by the Headmaster. It suited him, therefore, to give the boys as little food as possible himself and to encourage the parents in various cunning ways to feed their offspring by parcel-post from home.
- Nobody had to take a driving-test. You were your own judge of competence, and as soon as you felt you were ready to go, off you jolly well went.
- The parting in his hair was a white line straight down the middle of the scalp, so straight it could only have been made with a ruler. On either side of the parting you could see the comb tracks running back through the greasy orange hair like little tramlines.
- Captain Hardcastle was never still. His orange head twitched and jerked perpetually from side to side in the most alarming fashion, and each twitch was accompanied by a little grunt that came out of the nostrils
- It is worth reminding the reader once again of my age. I was not a self-possessed lad of fourteen. Nor was I twelve or even ten years old. I was nine and a half, and at that age one is ill equipped to tackle a grown-up man with flaming orange hair and a violent temper. One can do little else but stutter.
- I must have read the entire works of Dickens sitting on that Boazer’s bog during my first winter at Repton.
- Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours and nothing is fabulous any more. But it was a very different matter in 1934
- A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.