As Roald Dahl Day fast approaches, a letter the author sent to a lifelong fan almost thirty years ago has come into my possession. And what an amusing missive it is!
The letter belonged to a former Essex hotelier who wrote to the 'Tales of the Unexpected' author at the ITV Press Office in London's Tottenham Court Road in 1986. Rose-Marie Scheel had devised a plot for one of the famous half-hour dramas and asked permission send it, such were the manners of those days...
'No, please don't send me any more stories, but thank you so much for asking before sending,' replied Mr Dahl. 'Most people simly push them at me and I don't know what to do with them all..'
Mrs Sheel had told the author her son was 'reared with James and the Giant Peach' and thanked him for all the pleasure he had given to the family. So what was the plot she had in mind?
'My father had a wine cellar,' she told me this weekend at an antiques fair in Lytham, Lancashire, 'and I thought it would be a wonderful setting for a myster. Although Roald Dahl declined the offer, I was thrilled to get his autograph and have treasured it ever since. Now I want someone else to enjoy it.'
Her plot may remain a secret, but I reckon the Big Friendly Giant knows something about it. Don't you?