Daughter (10): It’s Roald Dahl’s birthday today
Me: (distracted, as per usual): Sorry?
Daughter: Yeah. I always remember it because it’s between my birthday and yours. And we were all told about this at school. IT’S ROALD DAHL’S BIRTHDAY THIS WEEKEND. Like …. it was the Queen’s birthday or summat! But way better. Obviously. Because Roald Dahl might not have been from Up North or that. But he wrote some really cool books for kids dinne?
Me: Yep! He did. He was great!
Daughter: And even that Little Weirdo [her smaller brother] is totally into Roald Dahl now. But that’s probably because Roald Dahl had this really spooky bit in his head where he wanted to freak us all out and talk about drowning kids in chocolate rivers and feeding kids on a big fat peach to seagulls. And that.
Me: Well. He always had a dark edge to what he wrote. But his writing for children was never really that scary.
Daughter: No. It was. Maybe just a bit. Like your book! ‘A Dark and Bleak Comedy’. That’s what it says. About your book. Like. we can all laugh at horrible things – because when people die – it can actually be really funny….!
Me: Look… you need to stop reading the marketing material … my book isn’t at all like…
Daughter: Anyway. However that Roald bloke writes – our Stinkypants loves him. And he hasn’t ever EVER wanted to listen to any other books or stories before he heard ‘Danny The Champion’ – has he? And now it’s all Chocolate Factory and Giant Peach every day, isn’t it?
Me: That’s true.
Daughter: So you can’t blame any of us for wanting special treats today, ’cause it’s Roald Dahl’s birthday. Get the Waggon Wheels out, I say! And we love books in our family and should celebrate it. ‘Cause the Queen never wrote nowt for us, did she?
Me: No… True.
Daughter: Which is probably why the Scottish ones want to tell us in our England to get lost. If our royal people can’t write good stories and if that David Cameron expects me to pay for you – when you’re old and loony and in a home for nice but mad old people – Well. I wouldn’t want to be in our England government thing either. If I was a Scots One!
Me: Hang on. We were talking about children’s books. Now you’re talking about Scottish independence. What on earth do you know about the referendum?
Daughter: Lots. I hear what you grown ups are always saying. Like… the UK Fish-Kipper party people need to read cleverer newspapers. And that the Scottish fish Allie Salmon bloke needs to remember that we don’t actually HAVE to do all of the government and royal family thing in england. Lots of us here are already happy to burn down the Houses of Parliament. And we might do it in a few weeks!!
Me: [appalled] Sorry – but where on earth did you hear that its okay to do that kind of thing? And if you’re talking about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot – you’re talking about some of the earliest acts of terrorism in the UK! And how on earth can you think that such things are okay?
Daughter: [irritated] Don’t blame me! It’s what our WhiffyPants told me he was learning at the Infants! So yeah… they’ll probably be reading their dark Roald Dahl stories there. And then they’ll be learning about how to blow up fleas on rats in a tunnel to kill the Umbolic Plague. With one of Roald’s enormous crocodiles too. And then they’re also learning how to be exploding the bad government in a big Fire Of London. At the same time. That’s what Pongypants says he’s learning about. And then…to remember it all – this is where that making of a fake body of that Guy Fawkes religious bloke comes from. And this is why we – in England – chuck it on a bonfire.
Me: Sorry, poppet but both you and your brother have got it all wrong. And I am pretty sure that Roald Dahl would have loved your interpretation of things but…
Daughter: Arghh! You just don’t understand! It’s something the government here just introduced! They told us about it at school! It’s called our new “NATIONAL CURRICULUM” We’re allowd to be independent and to celebrate our history, Mum!