So apparently last week it was Harry Potter’s 33rd birthday, which is quite weird since that makes him older than me. And weirder because it means, even six years after the last book, people still celebrate the birthday of a fictional character (besides J.K. Rowling, obviously, who shares his birthday and probably has good reason to celebrate).
I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter series, although I wasn’t to begin with. I was stubbornly refusing to read the books just because everyone else was, and so everyone else was already on the fourth book before I got started. The defining moment came when I finished The Prisoner of Azkaban, looked at the clock and realised it was 4.30am. That’s Book 3, by the way, where it gets good. Books 1 and 2 aren’t great, but you kind of need to read them to understand what’s going on. Sorry.
After that there was no going back and I became one of those people who pre-ordered their copy of the next book from Amazon so I’d receive it the day it was released. (No, I didn’t queue up at midnight – I didn’t want to be one of those people.) My friend and flatmate, Cheryl, was also a fan, so we’d lie in wait for the postman, mug him and then spend the rest of the weekend reading.
We also made it a tradition to watch the films together at the cinema, even after we’d both moved out, and last year for my 30th she took me to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, where we had great fun looking at all the sets and props from the movies, and browsing all the weird and wonderful sights in the gift shop (Dumbledore robes, anyone?). We also drank butterbeer. Don’t drink butterbeer – or if you must drink butterbeer, share it with someone, because you won’t want a whole glass.
Now, all this being said, even I can see there are a few major flaws in the series. For instance, why does Voldemort always wait till the end of the year to try and kill Harry? Wouldn’t it make more sense to strike in September, when nobody’s expecting it? That way, Harry wouldn’t have had a chance to learn, just in time, exactly what he needs to defeat him. Again.
On a similar note, how useless is Voldemort that he can be beaten – seven times – by kids? Isn’t he meant to be the most powerful dark wizard of all time? Or maybe it’s just that all the other good guys are equally useless…?
And one that’s bugged me for a while – the students at Hogwarts learn potions, defence against the dark arts, transfiguration, and various other magical subjects. But they don’t get taught basic things like maths or English. They also don’t study languages, which is not setting a very good example to the youth of today (says the Spanish graduate, who works for a language company). Surely at the very least they should learn Latin, since that’s where most of their spells come from. And don’t wizards ever go on holiday? I would recommend a very good language app, but since none of them appear to have iPhones, I don’t suppose it would help. But if anyone does want to know about a very good language app, give me a shout 😉
Finally – I’ve been to King’s Cross station, and I’ve never noticed anyone with a trunk and an owl disappearing (or appearing) through the wall. But that’s because I’m notoriously unobservant, and I like to think someone would spot something so bizarre. The same goes for Oxford Street; I get that Muggles can’t see the Leaky Cauldron, but surely they’d notice people vanishing off the street to go into it? And then emerging loaded down with owls, broomsticks etc?
I know, I know – they’re kids’ books and we mustn’t take them too seriously. And none of these flaws are enough to stop me enjoying the story or loving the characters – perhaps a bit too much; I cried like a baby when Dobby died. Admittedly I had just broken up with my boyfriend earlier that day, but poor Dobby was the final straw. And I still recommend the books to people who haven’t read them yet (if you have to choose between the books and the films, choose the books; they’re miles better. And sorry about the spoiler two sentences ago – forget I said that. Dobby’s fine, honest).
Now, repeat after me: ‘Wingardium leviOHsa’…