The winter I turned seven I remember standing in a long queue at the cinema after we had bought our tickets. There were a lot of people waiting to see a film and there was undeniable excitement in the air. There aren’t many specific memories that can be clearly recollected from childhood but this is one of mine. A memory of waiting to see the first Harry Potter film.
These circumstances aren’t usual or even unique but they were well timed. I was seven and unable to really read anything much more complicated than a Beano. Reading the Harry potter books wasn’t something I could do until I was in middle school, but I had heard of them. And as a seven-year-old I was dissatisfied with the limitations of youth and thought the children a few years older than myself seemed so grown up. Harry, Ron and Hermione were set to guide my aspirations. Heroes is a strong word, such titles are reserved for the likes of Miss Buffy Summers, but I cannot deny being encouraged by Hermione’s unapologetic know-it-all-ness. She made me want to be brighter, smarter and prouder for it. Which is partly accountable for my saying things that sound smart but not actually being sure if they are correct or have any substance. But I’m not a doctor so it’s not too important I’m right all the time. Just as long as it seems like I am.
Anyway, I was hooked. How could I not be. A new film every year or so unit the age of sixteen. Until I was leaving High School. The characters growing older with me, their school years taking place alongside mine. They had homework and awkwardness like me, but they had adventures and through the films, and later the stories, I got to escape from the muggle world into their magic. In many ways it is quite a gift to have in my generation. And is something I’m keen to share with the new generations, such as my sister ten years younger than myself. Legacy is a big word but that is what is being nurtured for Harry Potter. Perhaps just more ways to make money, but less cynically new ways to enjoy something we love and to have others experience it anew.
For my eighteenth birthday party I dressed up as Hermione and I then went to the Harry Potter Studios with my best friend as a present. To stand among the places you dreamed of visiting as a child while being on the cusp of adulthood is a powerful feeling. You know a lot more than you did over ten years ago but you have much bigger questions and fears. It was the perfect close to my juvenile years.
Now I still love Harry Potter but that love is less immediate, perhaps even less relevant, as my life is filled with newer things like career goals and exciting food. A couple of months ago my sister turned twelve and as a family we visited the studios together. There aren’t many things families do together, that everyone enjoys, but this is one. We all have our own love for Harry Potter. Each of us having our individual connection to the stories and world. In this respect Harry Potter is important, it is a force for good that brings people together. Money grabbing aside, the tour is special, the studios are a new place for expressing this love. Walking around now as a young adult I’m still affected by the wonder and detail of the cinematic world. There were a few new things to see which renewed my excitement. It’s odd that seeing all the tricks that brought the magic to life, looking behind the curtain, could offer wonder.
All in all it was a great weekend, despite my having a migraine the night before I stayed in the hotel and ordered in some really tasty Thai food. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they will deliver to Manchester from Watford. I think that if you have already been when it opened there’s still lots to enjoy visiting again. I’m just saving up for my very distant trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando now…