The Strange Old Man
A minor character in Dahl’s novel, “James and the Giant Peach,” the strange old man is exactly what he sounds like. When the story’s protagonist, James, stops to have a cry about his decidedly terrible life, a "funny old man in a dark green suit” emerges from a bush behind him, beckoning to James, claiming that he has something wonderful to show him.
He produces a “small, white paper bag” filled with tiny green crystals the size of grains of rice, and offers it to James.
What’s in the bag, you might ask? Well, James asked, too.
And the old man flips out.
He jumps backward and starts madly waving a stick in the air, excitedly exclaiming that the crystals are crocodile tongues boiled in the skull of a witch. Not only this, but also a part of this recipe: eyeballs of a lizard, the gizzard of a pig, the beak of a green parrot, the juice of a porcupine, and three spoonfulls of sugar. The old man confides that, after this, you let it “Stew for a week, and let the moon do the rest”.
Now, when an old man offers a child a bag of crystals, that’s weird enough. But when he proclaims that these crystals were forged as part of a pagan ritual involving some decidedly not-so-vegan ingredients, well, that’s weirder.
But it keeps going.
The old man shoves the paper bag into James’s hands, urging him to pour the crystals into a jug of water and slowly add ten of his hairs. This will make the whole mixture start to bubble and froth, and which point James is to chug the whole affair. Afterwards, the old man promises, steam will start coming out of your mouth, and marvelous things will start happening to you.
“Don’t tell your aunts!” He adds.
Yep. That's a Dahl character.