Holding onto the magic

Well, if there’s one activity to help wet my appetite for writing, it’s visiting an exhibition about one of our most adored children’s authors, Roald Dahl. Celebrating 100 years since his birth there are all kinds going on.

I had seen an advert on Facebook about it and showed it to my step mother who booked tickets for us to go and take my eight year old sister. I had bought her a complete collection some time ago and I knew she had read Matilda but wasn’t sure how engaged she was with the other stories.

Well, the interactive experience was absolutely magical for the children and for the grownups! Reading letters and writing notes in Dahl’s own hand was mesmerising. In particular, there was a piece of text on display about a boy called Jimmy who was knocking over a glass of water with his mind. Next to this text in another pen Dahl simply wrote ‘Matilda’. How fascinating it is to see other writers’ processes.

Guided around a series of themed rooms, the children were invited to look and find things and take things between rooms. Also immensely interesting was Dahl’s correspondence with Quentin Blake, instructing him on the drawings that would accompany his books and which have now become beloved around the world. A photograph of a lady who was perfect for the Trunchbull, and a lone sandal that belonged to Dahl himself which was exactly what he wanted the BFG to wear- Dahl sent these things to Quentin in the post with a letter.

It was lovely to just act like a kid, laugh and remember the wonderful memories and emotions associated with these books. And on top of that I learned some cool stuff I didn’t know about Roald Dahl, like about crashing his plane during the war.

James and the Giant Peach was my particular favourite if I recall. I had a sticker book from the film too. Does anyone have a favourite Roald Dahl? Comment below to let me know!

I think the particular thing about stories is that they last and last. It was nice to be with my father and talking to him about these books and the impact they had on my childhood, and then watching my sister, his youngest daughter enjoying them too.

As the tour was ending, the guide quoted Dahl (from The Minpins), which really hit home with me:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

This quote is a great antidote for creative slumps/blues. I’ve been having a hard time lately and maybe that’s why. Maybe it’s time to seek out some more magic.

The exhibition is on at the Southbank Centre until July. You can find some more information here. For other fun Roald Dahl stuff, click here.

Image today is courtesy of Pinterest.


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