Friday, 5 May 2017

Tea and snozzcumber sandwiches

Take a sneaky peek at the bookshelves, or the dusty stack by their bed, or the dog-eared novels lying on the coffee table and you can tell a great deal about someone, can't you? 
It says even more if there are no bookcases to scope out.

And it's sort of stating the bleeding obvious about what makes me tick to reveal that the cafe in the spectacular British Library (pictured here) is one of my favourite places to have a cuppa and a play with words on my computer. Towering walls of leather-bound books.
Me dwarfed by the world in words.
The only down-side is that they're behind glass. 
I'm an unashamed book-sniffer. 
And I'm tipping a few of you are guilty of the same.

But anyway, for the past few months, a row of gorgeous pen and ink illustrations has been hanging, relatively unheralded, along one back wall on the second floor of the library. I'm not sure how many people visit them every day, but in my immaterial opinion, not enough, so I thought I'd bring a couple to you. 

Commissioned to celebrate what would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday are ten new visions of some of his most famous characters.

Sir Quentin Blake ( aged 84) said of the exhibition:
“The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits ask you to imagine that a number of Dahl’s characters have been invited to come and sit for their portrait; they are depicted, not quite as they appear in the illustrations, but more formally... I hope visitors to the British Library will be happy to see this group of well-known characters treated as though they were real people – which, of course, to many of us they are.”

Here are three that took me back to many nights of reading aloud at bedtime:

I was even inspired to finally watch the latest movie of The BFG, which I'd been ignoring for two reasons: 
(1) critics gave it a total shit-canning, (2) I so adore Tim Minchin's Matilda that I doubted another recent re-imagining of Dahl could scratch up.
But I enjoyed it. I really did.

Granted, much of it would most certainly have given my daughter nightmares back in the day, but the final scene had us guffawing. 
A wind-driven comic scene to rival Blazing Saddles
It was the wizzpopping corgis that did me in.

As an almost completely irrelevant sidebar, here's something to further distract you when next you're watching TV. 
Remember how amazed you were when you first heard that 99% of phone numbers mentioned by American screen characters begin with 555? Well, prepare to be equally amazed.

If it's your turn to suggest the Friday-night drinking game but you're not in the mood, or you're having one of those non-alcohol nights that doctors recommend, suggest playing 'Spot the bookcase' in American-made TV shows and movies. 
Unless the room is an office, or the lead character is a professor-cum-educated- type like Frasier, a sober Friday night is a safe bet.

I wanted to finish with my favourite quote about books and reading, but I couldn't settle for just one, so you're getting two:

It's what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.   Oscar Wilde

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.    Groucho Marx


  1. I think I would like to sit in this cafe.
    As a matter of interest (or not) I never cared for Roald Dahl as a child or an adult. I found the narrative point of view annoying and patronising. I know, I think I'm the only person in the world whi is not a fan. The one exception is Matilda - I really love Matilda.
    I love that Oscar Wilde quote. I have two current favourite quotes about books/reading/writing:
    "We write by the light of every book we have ever read." (Richard Peck) and
    "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." (Neil Gaiman)

    1. So the blurbs really should read 'Universally (except for Buffy) loved... But I do understand what you mean about the POV.
      I have no idea who those people you've cited are ( pardon my ignorance) but they're both fantastic quotes.
      Thanks for commenting. I love it when I know I've had a visitor.

  2. I loved the British Library when I visited it on a rainy day last September. What a great place to read, and write, and yes eat cucumber sandwiches. Which know I have to have for lunch today because as a friend of my husband's says "You done flung a craving on me!"

  3. Roald Dahl was a great favourite of my kids but I'm ashamed to say I've never been to the British Library. I shall have to rectify this!

    1. And it's on the doorstep in Euston! Tut tut...

  4. Please tell them to hold those illustrations there until I get the chance (and wherewithal) to get over there! Those look great...

  5. ..better get here quick... They come down this weekend.

  6. aaaargh!
    Story of My Life! (insert aggravated face here)