The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl gets a royal visitor
HRH Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall is the official Roald Dahl 100 patron and so it was only fitting she visited The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl on London’s Southbank
Only about ten little oompa loompas–in-training were present during my tour, along with their grownups, meaning lots of opportunity to mull over the most-minpin-sized details. Once welcomed by the guide, visitors are taken through a series of rooms, each one dedicated to a different aspect of Roald Dahl’s life- complete with a booming voiceover that regularly interrupted to warn children away from whizz-popping adults.
Scattered throughout we discovered hidden manuscripts, photos and letters which all give an insight into Roald Dahl’s life and his inspirations. But this is no ordinary museum. Before crawling through sand and scattered plane parts into a flittering dark forest, we lifted school desk lids to reveal letters from Roald Dahl as a boy. A topsy-turvy corridor, where it was hard to tell up from down, led us towards the idea which sparked Matilda; and as one, everyone on the tour pressed their fingers to their temples, concentrated hard and attempted to move things with their eyes. A few seemed very well practised, and I suspect the smaller ones may be diligently exercising their telekinetic powers when the lights are supposed to be off and bedtime has come.
Giant Country is reached by means of a trumpet, which caused an eruption of giggles and as for The Inventing Room, well that shall remain a splendiferous secret, but suffice is to say it allows everybody to take part in the wackier side of Roald Dahl and had visitors hanging from the ceiling, throwing themselves at walls and laughing over gobblefunk.
The tour can perhaps be summed up by the final words which echoed as left the Wondercrump world, ‘Those who do not believe in magic will never find it . . .’ or alternatively 5 out of 5 Giant Whizz-Pops.
In the photograph: HRH Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall is joined by Willy Wonka (Jonathan Slinger) and Miss Honey (Charlotte Scott) as well as Luke Kelly (MD of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Roald Dahl’s grandson), Felicity Dahl (Roald Dahl’s wife).
(Photos courtesy of Victor Frankowski)
Get hold of your very own Roald Dahl World Book Day 2016 book - The Great Mouse Pilot is available now:
Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world. Augustus Gloop - a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt - a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde - a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee - a boy who only watches television. Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka's chocolate factory.
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr Willy Wonka opened the gates of his amazing factory to Charlie Bucket, our hero, and four repulsive children. They are Augustus Gloop (greedy), Veruca Salt (spoiled), Violet Beauregard (gum-chewer) and Mike Teavee (TV addict).
Danny lives in a gipsy caravan with his father, the most marvellous and exciting father any boy ever had. All the land around them belongs to Mr Victor Hazell, a rich snob with a great glistening beery face and tiny piggy eyes. Nobody likes him, not one-little bit.
On a dark, silvery moonlit night, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant. Luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant, the BFG, who only eats snozzcumbers and glugs frobscottle. But there are other giants in Giant Country. Fifty foot brutes who gallop far and wide every night to find human beans to eat. Can Sophie and her friend the BFG stop them?
Billy's biggest wish is to turn a weird old wooden house into a wonderful sweet-shop. But then he finds a giraffe, a pelly and a monkey living inside - they're the Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company! Who needs ladders when you've got a giraffe?
James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. He's very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and Grow and Grow.
Boggis is a fat chicken farmer who only eats boiled chickens smothered in fat. Bunce is a duck-and-goose farmer whose dinner gives him a beastly temper. Bean is a turkey-and-apple farmer who only drinks gallons of strong cider. Mr Fox is so clever that every evening he creeps down into the valley and helps himself to food from the farms.
Matilda's mother spends all afternoon playing bingo. And Matilda's headmistress Miss Trunchbull? Well, she's the worst of all. She is a big bully, who thinks all her pupils are rotten and locks them in the dreaded Chokey. As for Matilda, she's an extraordinary little girl with a magical mind - and now she's had enough.
Mr Twit is a foul and smelly man with bits of cornflake and sardine in his beard. Mrs Twit is a horrible old hag with a glass eye. Together they make the nastiest couple you could ever hope not to meet. Down in their garden, the Twits keep Muggle-Wump the monkey and his family locked in a cage.
As a boy, all sorts of unusual things happened to Roald Dahl. There was the time he and four school friends got their revenge on beastly Mrs Prachett in her sweet shop. There are stories of holidays in fishing boats, African adventures and the days of tasting chocolate for Cadbury's. This is Roald Dahl's autobiography.
Roald Dahl wasn't always a writer. Once he was just a schoolboy. Have you ever wondered what he was like growing up? This is his autobiography.