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September 13: Roald Dahl Day

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It’s Roald Dahl Day. Called such because on this day in 1916, the World War 2 fighter ace and spy was born in Wales to Norwegian parents. He wrote novels and screenplays, but he’s best known as one of the world’s most beloved writers of refreshingly macabre children’s books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, BFG, Matilda, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and so on. His books are unique in that, as opposed to the spoon-fed saccharin mush of today’s kid’s books, grown-ups are often portrayed as sinister and untrustworthy, there are real monsters in the shadows, and bad things sometimes do happen to good people. You know, reality. And he must have found an audience because an astonishing 250 million of his books have been sold. So, did Mr. Dahl enjoy a drink? I should say so. All those mentions of whiskey in the uncensored version of James and the Giant Peach should have been a giveaway. His tastes ran toward burgundy wine and Highland whisky, but he was prepared to drink nearly anything. When he was an adventurous young man traveling the world, Roald took great pleasure in scandalizing his dear mama with long letters detailing how much booze he was putting away. Here’s a sample: “From 2pm Saturday afternoon to 2am Sunday morning I consumed the following variety of liquors: Beer, Gin, Whiskey, Rum, Champagne, Sherry, Creme de Menthe, Brandy. And I felt a better man this morning, Gunga Din.” Fun fact: Roald was buried with bottles of burgundy and his snooker cue, because you just never know what’s going to happen next.

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