Roald Dahl thought that fate was against him after a series of catastrophes

Roald Dahl thought that fate was against him after a series of catastrophes


Neither Roald Dahl nor his beautiful wife Patricia paid much attention in the middle of the noise of traffic in the city center. But the lamentation of the sirens they heard in New York in December would remain with them for the rest of their lives. A short time before, a yellow taxi had snorkeled around the corner of Madison Avenue, bypassing a young nurse, Susan Denton, but she hit the pram she pushed. The driver had pressed the accelerator, not on the brake, while sending a pram and a baby 40ft through the air. And as the Dahls would learn to their horror, the ambulance they heard hastened their own son, the four-month-old Theo, to the hospital with a shattered skull. Doctors diagnosed such serious brain damage that they would undoubtedly die from it.

Roald Dahl with wife Patricia Neal and children Olivia, Tessa and Theo at their home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire The catastrophe was a turning point. Married with a Hollywood star and on the verge of real fame and wealth as a child writer, Dahl had already led a life that was not only unlikely but also charmed. He had survived a gruesome plane crash in the Libyan desert; defied the odds as an RAF fighter pilot and emerged as a hero. Inactive from active duty, Dahl air attaché was made to Washington, where he slept with the wives of the rich and influential to obtain information for the British security services. Now this fortune had come to an overwhelming stop – the first in a series of tragedies to surround his children and his marriage. From this point on, Dahl would believe that he and his family were cursed. The marriage of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neil in 1953 seemed unimaginably glamorous – a boisterous 6ft 6in former fighter pilot combined with one of the leading Tinseltown beauties of the day In reality, the relationship was rocky from the beginning. Even when they were first introduced to a dinner in New York in 1952, Patricia had deemed him unacceptably impolite. They were on the back burner. Dahl found his post-war life dull compared to the dizzying success of his career in America in the 1940s, fired like a handsome flying ace and the author of lively war stories.

The author believes that his family was cursed after they had suffered a series of bad luck after the accident of his son Theo. Patricia's acting career had come to a standstill and she had recently been dumped by her Hollywood idolate Gary Cooper, who decided to return to his wife. When Dahl called her to ask for a date, Patricia pointed it flat – before he got attached to it when he asked again a few days later. The same thing happened when he proposed in 1953. As she explained, it was hardly a love match. & # 39; I wanted marriage. And a family, "she said. Roald would have beautiful children. What did I go for? A big love? That would never come again. When did I have to face reality? & # 39; Her friend, the composer Leonard Bernstein, warned her that she & # 39; made the biggest mistake of her life & # 39 ;, but she desperately wanted to prove that she had switched from Cooper. Dahl found his post-war life dull compared to the dizzying success of his career in America in the 1940s. In the event that she cried on her wedding night, the honeymoon in Rome was disastrous and by the time the newlyweds went back to New York it was increasingly clear how little they had in common. In Christmas 1955, two years after their marriage, Dahl told Patricia that he wanted a divorce because they were in bed one night. He added nonchalantly: & # 39; Do not worry about it now, just go to sleep. & # 39; They stayed with them and in 1960 they started the marriage, dividing their time between England and America with their young children, Olivia, Tessa and Theo. The call that changed everything came in the early afternoon of December 5 of that year. Roald and Patricia were summoned to hospital, where Theo fought for his life. Typically, Dahl came into action and called the city's best surgeons to wipe the child away in an oxygen tent. It became clear that there was a recurring problem – an accumulation of fluid in the brain, which required repeated operations to drain it. Because Dahl realized that defective valves in the medical equipment caused the problem, Dahl decided to repair it himself.

The wedding of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neil in 1953 seemed unlikely glamorous, but they had to deal with various problems. First he moved his entire family back to Britain, so Theo was led by consultant Kenneth Till at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Then he threw himself into the investigation and did not contact a medical expert, but a toymaker named Stanley Wade, from whom he had bought a miniature steam train years ago. Wade, he knew, used extraordinary skill and ingenuity in building the small toy engines – and the toymaker agreed to make a valve for the specific requirements of Dahl and Till. By May 1962, the Dahl-Wade-Till valve – six moving steel parts in an apparatus of just one centimeter long – was finished, and it was a triumph. The Lancet medical journal reported it as a major breakthrough in surgery and was successfully used in nearly 3,000 children around the world. They would recover better than everyone thought possible and the shared care to take care of him drew Dahl and Patricia closer. She no longer wanted to have fun fights and put it in bed, as she put it. Theo would recover better than anyone ever thought possible and the shared care to take care of him drew Dahl and Patricia closer. They decided to live in England, at Gipsy House in Buckinghamshire. Now, while his career started, Dahl wrote full-time and retreated to his primitive & # 39; scribe hut & # 39; at the foot of the garden to work. Indeed, the Dahls started to feel like a normal, happy family when the director of Olivia's new school sent a letter to all parents warning them of an outbreak of measles. In November 1962 there was no vaccine available, although there was a drug, gamma globulin, that provided protection against encephalitis, a brain infection that affects one in a thousand measles patients. For fear of Theo, the Dahls gave him the only available dose. Olivia broke out in the tellers, but the worst of her fever decreased after three days. Soon she was in bed and her father was on chess. Then the next day, fate struck. At five o'clock in the afternoon, Patricia noticed that her daughter had convulsions before she suddenly became completely silent and weak. Patricia ran to a light switch that was connected to a light bulb in Roald's writing cabin and sent four fast flashes. Two flashes meant an emergency, four sent him into the house in panic.

Patricia suffered a severe stroke and three major strokes with doctors working all night to remove clots. Olivia was taken to the Stoke Mandeville hospital with an ambulance, but the little girl, only seven, could not be resuscitated. She had suffered fatal encephalitis – and a large dose of gamma globulin could have prevented this. For the rest of his life, Roald could not forgive himself for not having protected her. Reinald and Patricia threw themselves into the work when the family slowly reappeared. One of the results was the masterpiece that would make Dahl's reputation as a giant children's educational film – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Patricia's career also reached new heights when she played Paul next to Paul Newman, and in 1963 won the Oscar for Best Actress. In the following hours she received three major strokes of the brain and doctors worked the night through, saw in her skull to remove clots. In 1964 she became pregnant again and, when Christmas was approaching, Patricia asked her family to accompany her in Los Angeles, where she was filming. It was fortunate that she did. After returning to their rented mansion after a day of filming, Roald noticed that she had been drowned in pain, complained of pain in her temple and a double vision. For the next couple of hours she had worked three major strokes and doctors & # 39; s night she saw her skull to remove blood clots. Patricia stayed in a coma for three weeks, lying on an ice mattress to minimize swelling. Roald was constantly at her side and spent every waking hour trying to get a response. And then his wife opened – which he began to describe as & # 39; a huge pink cabbage & # 39; – an eye. She was confused, angry and scared, unable to move or talk, but still alive. Even more remarkable was that the unborn baby had also survived. Just as he had come into action to save Theo, Dahl was a man on a mission again, determined that he would not fail Patricia because he failed his daughter Olivia & # 39 ;. In Britain, Dahl forbade any visitors and threw flowers and cards from benefactors who might have encouraged Patricia to feel sorry for themselves. He hired a team of the best speech and physiotherapists to work with her all day long. There was no question of abstinence, and doctors were astonished at the progress – although they had warned Dahl that he was pushing so hard that it could hurt her in the long run.

Patricia found the author's interest in sexual concerns and after her stroke she complained that sex & # 39; pain & # 39; used to be. Their marriage began to collapse under pressure. If she would remain alone, she would sit and stare into space and within half an hour a big black cloud of depression would envelop her thoughts, & # 39; wrote Dahl. "Unless I was willing to have a bad-tempered, desperately unhappy shit in the house, I would have to take very drastic measures." Patricia found it deeply humbling to get help with very basic tasks, and the Therapy sessions often ended in tears Their daughter Tessa, mother of model Sophie, later wrote: & # 39; She would scream and scream. Make up words that we do not understand and then smile hysterically. Every day, swarms of visitors came to sit with her. On instruction from my father they would have her study done, as a child in kindergarten, reading, writing and arithmetic. "Patricia had changed beyond recognition and she knew it. Until now, the cracks in Dahls' relationship had been overshadowed by family tragedy, but now Patricia knew she was the burden. No longer the glamorous young movie star, she felt dependent on her husband as another of his children. Patricia found it deeply humiliating to get help with very basic tasks, and the therapy sessions often ended in tears. His endless calculations about her claims were particularly annoying: "He would tell me that I was 42 percent better than yesterday and 51 percent better than last week," she said. God, I was so sick of his percentages, his plans, his programs, his world. He was a hero and I hated him. In August 1965, Patricia of the baby, Lucy, who had survived her mother's stroke, and only a few days later, gave Dahl a cheerful interview that predicted that she would soon be ready for a triumphant return to acting. As a result of his self-confidence, offers of film rolls began to trickle in. Patricia's resentment was overwhelming, but she knew she could not have done it without Roald pushing her every step of the way. I knew that Roald the slave driver, Roald the bastard, with his relentless courage Roald the Rotten, as I had called him more than once, had thrown me back into the deep water. Where I heard, & # 39; she wrote. When she was enchanted, Patricia was vindictive and obsessive. Still limping and frustrated by gaps in her memory, she looked more like a cute, but rather strange ten-year-old, according to a girlfriend. Patricia had always found her husband's obsessive interest in sex disconcerting (he had been raised in an unusually tolerant family – when his sisters Alfhild and Else were much younger, they had both slept with the same man). Guests at Gipsy House recalled that Roald would sometimes go to bed early and leave notes for his wife who said: "If you want to fuck me, wake me up." Even his publisher thought he hated Jews. Last week it was revealed that the Royal Mint rejected plans for a Roal Dahl commemorative coin due to concerns about its anti-Semitism. Certainly it was that Dahl had notoriously frank points of view and a temperament that became smaller with the years. Dinner guests were warned to brace themselves for deep personal questions about sex, religion, money or politics. His New York publisher Bob Gottlieb was convinced he was anti-Semitic. At a certain point it became clear that he thought we were just a bunch of blood-sucking Jews, & # 39; said Gottlieb. In 1982 he confronted further allegations when he compared Israeli attacks on the Palestinians with the Nazis in a book review. He was bombarded with angry letters and phone calls, and branded as an anti-Semite around the world. He accepted that he should try to clean up the mess, but his clumsy attempts made it worse. In a letter to The Times he wrote: "I am not anti-Semitic. I am anti-Israel. He then gave a telephone interview to The New Statesman in which he spoke about & # 39; a trait in the Jewish character that provokes a certain hostility, perhaps it is a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. & # 39; Even a stinker like Hitler did not choose them without reason. "It is true that he also liked a lot about the French, Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Irish, Iraqis and Americans – but those who were closest to him learned the most." His Jewish friend Sir Isaiah Berlin said: "I thought he might say something, could have been pro-Arab or pro-jew, there was no consistent line, he was a man who followed grilling." Now she complained that sex & # 39; pain, and their marriage began to collapse under tension. "Her star status faded, she felt less feminine than ever, yet her long and handsome husband had kept his insatiable sexual lust." She never forgot a comment he made when she was pregnant with Lucy: & # 39; If you go to the hospital to have the baby, I think I'm going to London and find a girl, "he'd said to her." Someone who is not so fossilized. "In 1972, Patricia had agreed to a TV commercial for coffee fie and the production company sent a stylist to Gipsy House to discuss her wardrobe. The stylist, Felicity Crosland, known as Liccy, was 33 years old and beautiful, with striking dark hair and a complexion inherited from her father, an Indian physician. Patricia was already drinking a Bloody Mary at 11 o'clock when Liccy arrived and the two women talked happily about different looks for the shoot until Roald arrived for lunch an hour later.

Patricia was horrified by Dahl, then 56, deceived her and tried to pressure her to accept his infidelity as a normal part of marrying such a passionate man. Roald was 56 and struggled hard after a series of surgeries to correct a back injury. suffered in the plane crash in wartime. He felt old and tired of life, but from the moment he saw Liccy everything changed. A few weeks later, Liccy invited both Roald and Patricia to a dinner in her flat in Battersea, South London, and the chemistry between them was so strong that during the meal Roald really talked about and asked his wife to leave with her hostess. dine when she was gone. Then, not long after, he kissed and Liccy for the first time, it was the start of an affair that would eventually destroy what was left of his doomed marriage. Patricia was shocked by the relationship and felt that Dahl was trying to pressure her to accept his infidelity as a normal part of being married to such a passionate man. She refused, but realized that she was powerless to stop the affair and later admitted: & # 39;[Liccy] I wanted him and knew how I could get him. "Since her stroke, Patricia had lost her libido and was deeply hurt by her husband taking matters into her own hands, Liccy was indebted to her and told Roald that she felt she had no choice but to end it. She wrote to Patricia, apologetically: "I feel very sad about the misfortune that I caused you, and I hope that life will come to the fullness of time." Heartbroken, in 1975 Dahl wrote a long letter in which he asked Patricia if he would occasionally meet Liccy, refusing to see his mistress and, simmering with resentment, Dahl began writing short stories for adults dotted with references to sexual frustration and dysfunction, and created bitter characters that had fallen prey to manipulating female predators, and it took until 1983 that the Dahls were finally separated and that Liccy was finally free to move in. Roald nor Patrici A were present before the hearing, which did not reveal details about his infidelity or difficult behavior but which brought to a close a marriage of a rather epic tragedy. © Nadia Cohen, 2018The Real Roald Dahl by Nadia Cohen is published by Pen & Sword History on November 30th and cost £ 19.99. Offer price £ 15.99 (20 percent off, including free p & p) until November 18th. Pre-order at mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Spend £ 30 on books and receive free premium delivery. The spy that loved married women Dahl was seconded in air force in Washington and New York in 1942, charged with obtaining information for British intelligence. Tall, handsome and former hunter, quickly befriended with the rich and influential and regularly invited to the White House. Dahl soon discovered that the women of powerful men felt neglected and could be persuaded to reveal valuable snacks if they were given enough of the right kind of attention.Antoinette Haskell, the daughter of the Texan oil baron Charles Marsh, said & # 39; he [Dahl] slept with everyone on the east and west coast who had more than $ 50,000 a year. One was Evalyn Walsh McLean, a glamorous widow whom he described as & # 39; fantastic and rather stupid & # 39 ;. She flirted with him to his great amusement. Jennifer, who was 6ft 6in, wrote to his mother: "I can not resist looking down and seeing the closely guarded secret of her finely formed bosom. She has filled huge pillows in front of her shirt. The effect is very good for everyone under 1.50 m. & # 39; Dahl was particularly distracted by another useful contact, congressman Clare Boothe Luce, whose husband owned Time and Life magazines. The lust of Darl for this & # 39; command & # 39; however, began to take off, and one morning he announced to his boss that he & # 39; completely wrong & # 39; was, because Mrs. Luce & # 39; had screwed him from one end of the room to the other for three damn nights. & # 39; When he returned to Buckinghamshire after the war, his cousins ​​& # 39; nanny & # 39; sightseeing & # 39; in London … although she came back and told everyone about the size of the baths at the Savoy Hotel.

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