The great writer, thinker and humorist Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago on 13 September 1916.
Unfortunately he died in Oxford on November 23 1990, at the - in today's terms - youthful age of 74. What a loss. I can't wait for the day when science finds a way to keep the brain going when another vital organ in the body happens to fail.
Dahl must have dreamed of this as well, because in his short story, William and Mary, William's brain and eyes are kept going although the rest of his body had expired due to cancer.
Can you imagine how much more a man like Dahl or Albert Einstein or a musical genius like Freddy Mercury could still have brought to the table if they had lived for another 100 years?
Luckily, their books, music and discoveries live on.
I recently read Dahl's book, My uncle Oswald, a story about a randy, intelligent young man with low morals and openly hedonistic aspirations. A most enjoyable read.
Apart from setting a few traps for Uncle Oswald, the author also has fun at the reader's expense.
In the book he relates a scene in which Oswald attends a chemistry class. The quirky lecturer tells the class to make a tompion after concocting something inside a tube. The young men regard him with blank faces and he berates them for not knowing what a tompion is, saying he is there to teach them chemistry, not elementary English. The students beseech him to tell them what a tompion is, and he replies: A tompion is something a bear makes out of spit and mud to push up his anus in order to keep ants out during hibernation.
I laughed out loud, but then thought: Could this actually be?
I grabbed the dictionary and found the definition of a tompion: "A wooden stopper for the muzzle of a gun/a plug eg for an organ-pipe. Also known as tampion."
Ok, so it is a plug, but not for a bear's butt! I turned out to be the butt of Dahl's joke and wondered how many readers across the world had also reached for the dictionary. Penning the sarcastic definition, I am sure Dahl hoped to illicit this very reaction.
Having fun at his readers' expense must have tickled him no end.
I wish we could bring some of that intellectual joy and humour into our every day lives. Everyone is so incredibly serious and morbid. Just look at our protesting students.
We know they go through tough times, but even in times of hardship and poverty, there is some humour to be found. Even if it is black humour - a term that has nothing to do with race.
My maternal grandfather once wryly joked: "I was the youngest of 15 kids, but luckily two died young." Despite his tough childhood, he managed to borrow money to study, but 'carefree student years' was most certainly not part of his frame of reference.
No cause is worth dying for, because circumstances are fluid and ever changing. What you regard as a permanent gloomy existence today, can be turned on its head tomorrow. Think Charlize Theron.
She entered a bank in Hollywood with one life and left the place with another. If you don't know what I'm on about, Google 'Charlize Theron bank teller'.
As Dahl wrote: "A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men."
We are tired of raised fists and empty slogans. Let's all get a life. We only have one.