by Lee Cross
September 13th 2016 – Roald Dahl’s one hundredth birthday.
Matilda changed my life. That’s what I want to say to the world today, nothing more, simply those four words.
I’ve seen numerous pieces all over the internet and in the daily’s extolling the great man’s skill and lasting appeal, not a single word of which I would disagree with.
He was a wonderful writer and by all accounts an equally wonderful human being – something I have no difficulty believing because it’s what I feel in my heart.
Roald Dahl came into my life in the form of Matilda, which was lent to me by a primary school teacher and was the first book I ever truly read. I wasn’t from a bookish family and was never pushed or required to read at home, so it’s to my lasting shame that I can’t remember the name of the women who lent it me that first great book (… I think she did it to cheer me up, I had knits in my hair again and was quiet upset). I was only in her school a few months but still I would love to reach out to her now and offer my thanks.
Reading Matilda gave me a way to be free from the world and taught me there were places to hide from it (…books…stories…imagination…) where I couldn’t be hurt, where I could live any dream I wished too; perhaps happily for ever after.
For as long as I can remember I always wanted to run away from home. When I started reading about this small girl who seemed so much like me, from that very first book, I was able to do so…I had found my way to escape.
Then, as the books and years rolled by, I travelled further and further beyond the confines of silly blood and bone, until one day I realized how many of my gifts of thought and imagination where due to my first tiny step and I decided to re-read Matilda with adult eyes.
Gosh, what a wonderful read! No wonder I grew up and wanted to read all the books in the world! No wonder that every woman I’ve ever chosen to love reminds me of Miss Honey!
Roald Dahl’s writing changed me, something I didn’t realize until a long time after the fact. He instilled in me an understanding of what is truly good in the world, while simultaneously teaching me about the bad. He taught me to be happy when I could, to be sad when I must and to be as brave as I can through good, bad, happy, sad, and all the little nameless moments in between.
How can I feel anything but love for the man.
Roald is 100 today, I hope he lives on in memory forever.