A week or two ago, Penguin towers put on a very special event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the delicious tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and we took a handful of lucky Spinebreakers along to enjoy it! The event was a discussion between Luke Kelly (Dahl’s grandson) and journalist Lucy Mangan all about Charlie and the wonderful story itself (and the story behind it).
Check out what the lucky Spinebreakers made of the event…
A couple of weeks ago I got a letter in the post containing a golden ticket. A real life golden ticket, inviting me to the launch of Guardian and Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan’s new book and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ It’s an iconic novel and Dahl is one of my favourite children’s authors, so I jumped at the chance.
The event was hosted by Luke Kelly, Roald Dahl’s grandson and the US manager of his literary estate. He explained how this job involved managing how his grandfather’s novels are branded and publicised to reach new generations of children. Lucy also explained how she was asked to write the book by Penguin, as she’d written a piece for the Guardian about her favourite children’s books and her love for Dahl was mentioned.
The pair both clearly had a lot of nostalgia for the novels, for very different reasons. Mangan told us how her favourite Dahl book is ‘Matilda’, as she could relate to the bookworm central character as a child (I wonder if many Spinebreakers feel the same?!) Stephen spoke of one of the books being dedicated to him, so it holds a very special meaning to him.
The talk was fascinating and Stephen in particular gave us a real insight into life being part of the Dahl family. He spoke of going to Dahl’s house for a fancy family dinner and Roald Dahl bringing out a red box of classic chocolate bars afterwards. Mangan also commented about how in her research for the book, she’d discovered that Roald Dahl was such an avid fan of the cocoa stuff, he believed that all children should be taught in schools the years in which chocolate bars were released (I would definitely take that class!)
It was a really interesting event for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and like a true Dahl fan I made use of the chocolates that were being handed out by Penguin!
A Simply Gloriumptious Evening, by Juwi
I was lucky enough to receive a Golden Ticket for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory event at Penguin HQ. a conversation between Lucy Mangan (The Guardian) and Luke Kelly (Roald Dahl’s grandson)
So I thought I’d wear purple since that’s usually the colour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book covers and what Willy Wonka wears. So I got to Penguin and met a few other Spinebreakers and we were talking about our love for chocolate and they gave us some awesome stickers…’I Love Chocolate’ and ‘Long Live Oompa Loompas’. So we went upstairs and they had FREE CHOCOLATE (Quality Street) so we ate some chocolate and sat down in the front row seats. They had some cool decorations of sweets and giant chocolate bars; sadly they weren’t edible .
Lucy Mangan has a new book coming out later this year called ‘Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory’ which is about the behind the scenes process of all things Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from the writing and editing as well as details of the movies and the musical.
So the conversation was quite funny as Lucy forgot Luke’s name and they gave us snippets of the original manuscript of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We got to hear a song for one of the character’s that was cut out and what the Oompa Loompas would have been called (I can’t remember now but it’s not as amazing as Oompa Loompa). One of the characters that was cut out was called ‘Herpes Trout’. I wouldn’t lie about that…
It was just wonderful to reminisce on the legend that is Roald Dahl and his books and imagination. I think the best thing about Roald Dahl is that his books are timeless, because they’re funny and filled with great characters and of course yummy treats!
Celebrating 50 whipplescrumptious years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I think I shall eat some chocolate now!
The Charlie and the Chocolate factory event I went to (along with several other Spinebreakers) was one of the things that I had been most looking forward to over the past week, since I received a Golden Ticket, yes a Golden Ticket, (truly one of the coolest invitations that I have ever received in my whole life) in the post. It didn’t disappoint. I arrived slightly out of breath and over twenty minutes early, due to the fact that there was a tube strike so I had left ridiculously early, and then got lost in Charing Cross station. But none of these impediments could detract from the overall excitement of the evening.
The first order of the day was to check out the food that they had provided. Secretly, I had been hoping for themed snacks (if not lickable wallpaper and a chocolate waterfall, at least chocolate in some form) and there were! Bowls upon bowls of jewel like chocolates dotted around the room, filled to the brim with fudges and those green triangles filled with hazelnut and toffees and orange creams and coconut things and caramels and so much more. I’m not ashamed to say I shamelessly pillaged these bowls of joy. Nobody else that I could see was taking advantage of these luscious refreshments, so I decided that taking a fudge (or twenty) couldn’t be that much of a problem. Unfortunately the barman minding these bowls was of a different frame of mind.
I quickly escaped his laser eyes and ran to the relative safety of the other room, where Lucy Mangan and Luke Kelly were to have their ‘conversation’ about Lucy’s new book, and Charlie and all things Roald Dahl and chocolate-y. The decorations here were astounding. They had made giant Whipplescrumptious-Delight bars, lollipops and boiled sweets and the new 50th anniversary copies of Charlie abounded. I got a seat right at the front in the middle, so I had a perfect view of the action, and settled in with my newly acquired snacks (take that, barman!).
The actual conversation was everything I had hoped and more. It was funny and interesting and we heard all sorts of secret tit-bits which made me feel that I was in a very select club that got to hear all sorts of fascinating anecdotes about Gypsy House (the Dahl family house) and the proof copies and cut characters and publishing process and original story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was very exciting. One of my all-time favourite moments was when Luke read out the Oompa-Loompa song for the last of the character’s to be cut, Melinda Merry-Weather I think her name was. It was hilarious and also really cool to hear something that nobody else had ever really heard before.
And I learnt so much about Charlie which I’d never known before, which for a Dahl geek like myself was so awesome. For example, did you know that Oompa-Loompas were originally called Whipplescrumpets? Or that Charlie found a publisher through one of Roald Dahl’s friends at school? Or that in the original story Willie Wonka is married and has children? This was, frankly, one of the most shocking parts of the evening.
Even the Q&A was interesting. Normally I despise and loath Q&As with every fibre of my being, but this one was so much more stimulating than they normally are. Although there was the required amount of pretentious people asking stupid questions, there were some very interesting ones and Luke Kelly even answered my question which almost never happens because I’m almost never picked for audience participation.
So, overall, the Charlie and the Chocolate factory event was really good, even better than I had hoped. The only thing that could have improved it was a barman who didn’t mind parting with his sweets.