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Bruce Bogtrotter – hero of literature


MatildaThe six-year-old and I have been continuing to plough through Roald Dahl books at bedtime. Since December, we have read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Danny the Champion of the World, The BFG, and Fantastic Mr Fox. I’ve also read Dahl’s memoirs, Boy and Going Solo, during my adult time, which isn’t very lengthy. I feel I know Roald Dahl very well now. Right now we’re reading Matilda. I was a little wary of Matilda as child geniuses are rather scary – I have this dream where I wake up in a hospital halfway through a major operation being carried out on me and I look up from the operating table, and the surgeon is Dougie Howser, who says “I’m only 12 you know.”

I had never read Matilda and we’re about halfway through now. Last night we read the chapter about Bruce Bogtrotter. I thought Bogtrotter (which is also a nasty nickname for an Irishman) was going to turn out to be a horrid little boy or just another hapless victim of the scary headmistress, Ms Trunchbull – who threw the hammer for Britain in the Olympics.

However, it was a wonderful chapter. In front of the entire school at assembly, Bogtrotter is accused of stealing a slice of Trunchbull’s private chocolate cake, and he is indeed guilty of this crime. The evil headmistress produces a huge chocolate cake and orders Bogtrotter, a plump, round boy, to eat the cake…all of it, every last bit.

The boy starts off slowly and the assembled children immediately start whispering that he’s going to be sick very soon. But Bogtrotter keeps going. When he’s halfway through the cake, Dahl writes a wonderful few paragraphs about how the boy gets into his stride, into an eating rhythm, and that he’s attempting to climb a mountain and defeat the headmistress. The watching children also sense the tide is turning and they are willing their unlikely hero to keep going. Someone yells out: “Come on Brucie, you do it.”

Bogtrotter clears the entire cake and the children cheer. Trunchbull picks up the plate and smashes it on his head, and stomps out of the hall.

Bruce Bogtrotter is now one of my heroes of literature.

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Richard Davies

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