Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fictional Food Adventure: Reading Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Danny Champion of the World is another classic that I never read as a child. I asked my Mum, the other day, if she and Dad had read it to my older brother Joe and whether they liked it. Mum assured me that it was a firm favourite with all three of them. With four years between us, my brother and I didn't usually share bedtimes so I somehow missed out on this story. It was probably another example of my stubbornness as a child. I often asked for something to read but was not satisfied with Mum's suggestions for the books on our shelves. Based on the titles, I made assumptions about the stories and dismissed them time and again. I only finally read Winnie the Pooh, Swallows and Amazons and The Chronicles of Narnia at age 18. And oh, how I adored them all. Sorry Mum. Hard work, wasn't I? Well, I wish I had been more open back then, for maybe now Danny Champion of the World would be part of my childhood memories.

Instead, I first read it now, at age 30. And yes, of course, I love it. I borrowed it from the library but as soon as I finished it I bought my own copy as, surely, every home needs a copy on its shelves.

This book is unique among Roald Dahl's collection, telling a simple story of a marvellous father and the sweet son who wholeheartedly adores him, and the life they live and love.

I loved hearing about the caravan where Danny and his father live, and their garage workshop, and their devotion to each other. About their dented cutlery and daily long walks to and from school together. About their conversations, and Danny's questions, and his father's responses, and their bedtime stories.

When Danny's father finally decides to invest in an electric oven, to roast chicken and lamb and pork, it is Danny who requests that they make Toad-in-the-hole, as his father loves it so much, just like his Old Mum used to make. He even describes how he's going to do it.

I'll be sharing my own experience with this simple yet troublesome dish next time,  I haven't eaten it since before we were married because, we tried once and it failed utterly. It was a flat biscuit and a huge disappointment. But we love eating it so looking forward to having another go.

Danny Champion of the World is sitting happily in my own bookshelf now. It's never too late to discover a great read and cherish it forever more.

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