Charlie and the Footydream factory: a day in the life

I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children – just five, mind you, and no more – to visit my factory this year.
– Roald Dahl, “Charlie and Chocolate Factory

==

“Who do you barrack for?”
“Collingwood.”
“Oh, boo. They lost.”
“Well, who do you barrack for?”
“Essendon.”
“The Bombers?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh gee. That’s bad.”
“Is it?”
“Yeah it sure is. That’s really bad.”
“Why?”
“Cos they’re druggies.”
“Are not.”
“Yes they are. Everybody knows.”
“Are not.”
“Are so. And they’re cheats.”
“Are not.”
“Yes they are. I saw on the news. There was a picture of the Essendon bombers and a picture of a needle.”
“So what?”
“So the players are using druggy needles.”
“No way.”
“Yes way. I told you. It’s on TV.”
“Oh.”
“They’re druggies.”
“Shut up.”

==

“Dad, why’s this picture of a needle next to the Bombers in the paper?”
“Huh?”
“Dad, are Essendon druggy cheats?”
“What? Who told you that?”
“Max.”
“Max, eh? That boy at the park?”
“Yeah.”
“What did he say, Charlie?”
“He said that Essendon were druggies and cheats.”
“Did he?”
“Yeah, he said he saw a picture of a needle on the TV.”
“Did he?”
“Yeah.”
“Right. Did Max tell you anything else he saw on TV?”
“No.”
“Hmm. Do you believe everything that happens on TV?”
“No.”
“And do you believe everything that Max tells you?”
“No, but…”
“But what?”
“But… is it true?”
“Of course it’s not true. Now go brush your teeth.”
“How do you know?”
“What?”
“How do you know it’s not true?”
“I just know, OK?”

==

“Good morning Grade 3.”
“This week we’ll continue with our Inquiry. Charlie, can you remind us all of our Inquiry topic for this term?”
“My community.”
“My community. That’s right. So today we’ll go on our excursion and act as detectives. So who can tell me, what do we need before we can make up our minds about something? Isabel?”
“Evidence.”
“That’s right. Evidence.”

==

“On your marks, get set, GO!”
“Wait, you cheated!”
“Did not.”
“You cheated.”
“Charlie, I did not.”
“You started before you said ‘Go!’ “
“Did not.”
“You did, Tom. You must have.”
“Did not.”
“There’s no way you could have made it to the swing that fast.”
“Prove it.”
“I’m not playing with you. You’re not playing fair.”

==

“ ‘I want an Oompa-Loompa!’ screamed Veruca.
– Roald Dahl, “Charlie and Chocolate Factory

==

“How was your weekend Charlie?”
“Hi Mr Smith. Good.”
“You’re an Essendon man, aren’t you?”
“Yes.”
“How’d you go?”
“We lost. Mr Smith, who do you go for?”
“Why Charlie, I barrack for football.”
“Football? But Mr. Smith. That’s not a team.”
“Ahh, no, Charlie. But it’s a game.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well the game is the biggest thing there is, Charlie. Without the game, we have nothing.”
“So?”
“So without the game, there would be no teams.”
“But you never win.”
“Ahh, but I do. Every week there are games. And I never lose. The game is bigger than any of us, Charlie. And it’s ours. That’s why I barrack for the game.”
“Mr. Smith, are Essendon druggies?”
“Hmm. Where did you hear that, Charlie?”
“Just heard it.”
“Hmm. Well the truth is, I don’t know.”
“Oh.”
“And not many people really know for sure.”
“Oh. Is there any evidence?”
“Ahh, great question. Some evidence has been found and now investigators are looking at it.”
“Are they?”
“Yes. So we’ll find out soon.”
“So we need to wait.”
“Exactly. Just wait patiently.”
“Alright.”
“Good man.”

==

“Come on Charlie. It’ll be our little secret.”
“Are you sure it’s alright?”
“Don’t you trust us? We wouldn’t do anything to harm you, would we?”
“No.”
“No. And us big kids know more than you do.”
“Yes.”
“Right. Now come over here.”

==

“I don’t care, Charlie. If they told you to jump off a cliff would you do it?”
“No. Of course not.”
“The point is that it’s not good enough for you to say ‘they told me to.’ ”
“No.”
“You’re responsible for your own actions, alright?”
“Yes, mum.”
“Right. That’s really disappointing, Charlie. You already knew that.”
“Sorry.”
“You already knew that. So, who’s responsible for your actions?”
“I am.”
“Good. Don’t forget it.”

==

“Hey Charlie. Let’s kick a footy!”
“Nah.”
“Carn.”
“Nah. I’m tired.”

==

We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.” – Willy Wonka
– Roald Dahl, “Charlie and Chocolate Factory

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Thanks David. There are many aspects to the harm that “whatever it takes” and “we know best” can do. Unfair competitive advantage is the one most talked about. But uncertain long term health and welfare are the main reason these things are illegal. Thalidomide anyone?
    You are right to raise the broader ethical and societal example. Both in allowing fair process and not abrogating your rights to authority. I have always loved Bruce Springsteen’s intro to the concert version of the Edwin Starr song “War”:
    “If you grew up in the 1960s, you grew up with war on TV every night – a war that your friends were involved in. I want to do this song tonight for all the young people that are out there. If you’re in your teens, I remember a lot of my friends when we were 17 or 18, we didn’t have much of a chance to think about how we felt about a lot of things. The next time, they’re going to be looking at you, and you’re going to need a lot of information to know what you’re going to want to do. Because in 1985, blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed.”

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