On the Plate: I am Pho

Where: A chinatown basement opposite the supermarket with the good kimchi
Price: Just right
Tastiness Factor: 😲
Return Custom: I have already been twice, so yeah…

I need to tell you guys something. I have a new favourite sandwich and it doesn’t have mayonnaise in it! This is a big deal, I know some people don’t like it but I’m the sort of person who has mayo with chips, nuggets and even on toast… Yes I know I’m gross, whatever. The point being, it is pretty standard of me to use mayo as a butter substitute in a sandwich as I find it is tastier and adds an element of moisture. The chicken bánh mì at I am Pho, from what I could briefly tell before devouring my half, did not have mayonnaise in (or much anyway) and it was quite easily the tastiest sandwich I have ever eaten. If there is anything good about colonialism*, it is this sandwich. It has the best things, the tastiest Viet/French baguette that is crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. The juicy sweet meat is then paired with the crunchy and fresh salad balancing the rich and crisp flavours and it is sooo good.  Please go and eat one, or three, they have different fillings that really prove that simple ingredients can make the most delicious food.

Now, I did get ahead of myself there. The restaurant is called I am Pho (fuh- like fu-nny), so that dish is pretty important to the restaurant’s identity. My initial visit to I am Pho was to have pho, at the time I was looking for something tasty that would fill me up, but also wasn’t unhealthy like a pile of fries with a burger. And I got all those things. Pho is an excellent comfort food, that you feel nourishing you as you eat. For those who are unfamiliar its western equivalent would be chicken noodle soup, but I use that term loosely as pho is so very much souperior and it comes in bowls big enough to drown a child or an adult with a small head*.  The pho is tasty as it is, not spicy and wouldn’t be too challenging for a strong western palate as it is a delicious stock based soup that takes hours to make. You can have it as you you wish at I am Pho, with a range of condiments to choose; you can spice or sauce things up however you like and you also add your own amounts of fresh ingredients including: mint, chilli, bean sprouts and lime. It is an intensely satisfying dish that will help ward off all manner of ailments*.

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In addition to the pho, I tried the egg and crab noodle soup that was also brilliant. Richer and more complex than the pho, which isn’t to disregard the latter, both are great in their own way. Other dishes on offer include the summer rolls which I enjoyed with moreish satay dip, but my tall friend wasn’t a fan of the squishy texture. Again, fairly healthy in comparison to dining out experiences trusting you don’t lick the dish of satay sauce clean like I did. My only critique of I am Pho is that the chairs need replacing as they are looking a bit tired and icky, but that’s just another reason for you to go and give them your money so that they can buy more.

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*I in no way condone colonisation. It is bad and I have not studied this era.

*Please don’t murder.

*Don’t quote me on that.

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My Month in Films:March

So while I work my way into better habits and tighter trousers, I’m keeping it tame in the food department. I could tell you once more about places I’ve revisited to eat but I want things to be fresh. My new attempts at self-improvement haven’t stopped me from visiting the cinema, and as I realised this morning I’ve been a few times this last month and I have a little to say about each experience.

Black Panther

How should you see it: However you like, just do
How does it look: Collectively, like nothing I’ve seen before
Entertainment value: Better than most MCU films
Quality cinema rating: 3/5

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As the MCU’s first non white-male lead I was anxious early for it to succeed, particularly after the delay of Captain Marvel, the historically blatant lack of Black Widow film and the hiring of Oscar-winning actresses as love interests. Proving to Marvel and Disney that white-male heroes aren’t all we want to see was important considering the box office monopoly they have for their releases. I was concerned, after see the promotional images, that Black Panther would be too ‘different’ and fantastical to really pick up. But I’m also the person that heard about a talking raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy and thought it would fail. So despite how I may act, I’m not always right and I’m very grateful in these circumstances to be wrong.

To me Black Panther succeeds because it is different, we have a high-budget wide release Western film that is exploring African culture and heritage in a way that hasn’t happened since The Lion King (and that was mainly white people pretending to be animals) . The music, clothing, and settings are all new and diverse to the MCU’s catalogue. This wouldn’t work without a fantastic cast, engaging story and strong direction but with those alone I don’t think people would have seen this film more than Frozen if it wasn’t special.

So here are some of the reasons the film is great. The bare plot isn’t the most original but the execution of the story will reel you in. The characters are engaging and the risk in their lives feels very real. Often the stakes in action films can seem overblown and flimsy but with Black Panther you understand the potential cost of characters’ actions and their emotional value. With the exception of Martin Freeman’s character; he brought nothing to the film other than his weak American accent.

One of the most individual and strongest features of the film is its style. The regal thumping score of drums and wooden pipes beats like a heart through the film. The music flows and rises, taking you through the emotions on screen, providing a truly distinct and frankly awesome soundtrack. The costumes are also memorable, Wakandans wearing vibrant colours and with intricate designs, the dowager Queen rocking a level of ‘wow’ and sophistication that would make Queen Amidala look like a child in fancy dress (which, in fairness, she was). Certain sequences in the film combine these elements to a great effect, such as the casino scene followed by a fast and furious car chase. While by themselves those are exciting and glamorous, the scenes are just made a lot cooler with the sweet soundtrack and killer costumes. In particular Danai Gurira’s character exacerbated removal of her wig once her cover is blown so that she can kick some ass.

This said, I do feel like my expectations of the film where harmed by the sheer hype. Black Panther isn’t The Dark Knight, which redefined what a superhero movie could be and was also a technical feat of filmmaking. Black Panther does have the elements of this but maybe I just didn’t like it as much. Perhaps more importantly, I know that this film will mean a lot to other people, particularly kids who don’t get to see themselves as heroes like this, making Black Panther a culturally significant film.

Lady Bird

How should you see it:  With bottle of wine at home on the sofa
How does it look: Like a photo of a sleepover taken with a disposable camera
Entertainment value: Tears, laughter and secondhand embarrassment–what more do you need?
Quality cinema rating: 5/5

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I have been excited about this film before the acclaim and fuss of awards season. I’m a Greta Gerwig fan for sure. She is an active part of one of my favourite film genres: Greta Gerwig Films (quirky independent comedies with a female lead). She has collaborated with partner Noah Baumbach on a number of films, most notably Frances Ha, which I highly recommend, but Lady Bird sees Gerwig take the directional reins.

But was it any good? Short answer: yes, quite good.

Long answer: Lady Bird is is a teenage film minus the bullshit. There are no grand gestures, make-up transformations, and promises that everything will be fine. It’s realistic and in turn entirely relatable. Considering this, I wonder how much of Gerwig there is in Ladybird’s story, but I’m happy not knowing it doesn’t affect how I see the film. Which is not the story of a specific individual but of many who have experienced high school post-9/11. That said, the main character is Christine “Lady Bird” McPhereson, played by the poised Saoirse Ronan (who has more shit together than me and five other people I know) is a spotty skinny teenage girl who isn’t getting into an Ivy League university and isn’t particularly talented. She has one main goal, to move to New York for University, but financial family pressures and academic achievement stand in her way. I’m not going to explain the plot, that’s what IMDB is for, but that’s the key plotpoint.

The best parts of this film are its subtle and surprising nature. The humour and emotion in this film arrive unexpectedly. You aren’t just laughing after a punchline or crying when the lead does, you are invested in the characters and story, not as a voyeuristic third party but almost as a friend sharing the experience. This is a part of why the film is special and uniquely enjoyable. Another aspect of this is its representation of relationships, specifically the way the characters relate to one another. The mother-daughter relationship is the most challenging and dynamic of the film and the stakes are greatest here. Lady Bird is preparing to leave her family home and the nature of who she and her mother  are to one another is changing. The differences between the two characters is clear, unrelated they would not make good friends, as such they tussle with one another to find these new roles and establish an equilibrium.

The soft and grainy nature of the film compliments its nostalgic feeling, not to say that it romanticizes teenage life–quite the opposite. Ladybird’s life is awkward, confusing, fun and has all the emotional waves that surging hormones bring.This is a charming film offering a fresh perspective on the transition from teenager to young adult. Watch it at home with your friends and remember how things used to feel and the journey that you have all been through.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

How should you see it: At the cinema, on a stupid big screen
How does it look: Like a 12 year-old’s Bionicle fantasy
Entertainment value: Like riding a fast roller coaster while listening to Aerosmith-cheesy but good
Quality cinema rating: 2/5

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I have been looking forward to the Pacific Rim sequel for some time now. The first film was everything a big action film should be, paying homage to big creature movies and giving us compelling and diverse characters to root for.

The new film, I don’t feel, will have the same cultural impact because it doesn’t feel as fresh as the first. But I bought my film tickets wanting two things: John Boyega and big mechs fighting big monsters. And I was not disappointed. I feel like his Attack the Block character has graduated to bigger nasties and Boyega brings real fun and life to the screen, he is greatly entertaining to watch. Particularly when paired with the cardboard cut-out of an American action hero, Clint–sorry–Scott Eastwood, who admittedly does play into the whole stale stereotype pretty well. If you go to see this film wanting to have a good time and see some cool fights then this will give it to you. I’m not going to talk at length about this because this article is too long and I want to publish it before April ends but you should watch Pacific Rim: Uprising when you don’t feel like taking everything super seriously. However I do recommend a cinema trip for it because it makes the big things look even bigger which just adds to the excitement, plus you won’t miss anything too important if you need the loo, as in typical action film style things are spelt out fairly regularly.

Upcoming next month: I Love Dogs, Avengers: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare: The Movie and the Shhhh Shhh film.

Rebuilding: New Year, Old Me

Earlier this week I picked up my laptop to start typing out a version of these thoughts only to realise that I probably, after two months of ignoring the messages, I should update the operating system. What should have taken half an hour, took most of the evening. After a few errors the best and quickest way to make my machine usable was to wipe it clean. All the videos, songs, games, random files I don’t know what they did but was too afraid to delete–gone.
As a non-idiotic user of technology the important and irreplaceable stuff is backed up into the cloud. So don’t worry, my unpublished memoirs of teen angst are safe. The Sims 3 is gone though, about 100gb of expansion packs and mods and the save games of countless play hours. But that’s OK. Some things need to be let go of. The Sims 3 wasn’t ported to Mac properly and would consistently crash, as well as taking up valuable hard drive space. It wasn’t doing my computer any good. So now I’ve solidly moved on to The Sims 4 on my tall friend’s gaming suitable pc and my laptop is running happily and clutter-free. To move on and make things be better I had to start over.

I’m not really into making new year’s resolutions. There is something icky and  terribly forced about them. According to the media everyone is on a diet or ‘lifestyle change’, which is good for them. Trying to be better is the best we can do. But undoubtedly you will know someone who’s bought Joe Wicks’s book intending to change their lives only for it to now be forgotten and dusty on the bookshelf. You’ll have friends who stopped drinking for a week and a half just to give up on pay day. And people who are trying vegan but don’t actually know what they can eat. Resolutions are a fad, a marketing ploy for post-Christmas retail, and at worst mild-bragging material useful in polite small talk between colleagues. Eugh.
But I’m really into making this year better. Last year I didn’t visit a single new place, I gained weight, I lost confidence and I didn’t have many nice things to think of when ringing in the new year. Yet, I couldn’t help think about how good the year before was. 2016 was (comparatively) the tits. I was happy and healthy and did some cool stuff. So instead of a ‘new me’ I going back to what made me and that year so great.
Diet does play a big part of this, not necessarily eating less (just until I’ve lost the depression pounds) but eating more of the green stuff and cutting down on treats. As someone that loves food, so much so that as a child I would feel cheated not getting three square meals a day, acknowledging that certain foods don’t love me back is a little tricky. But everyone is different and eating white bread and sugary foods shouldn’t be the usual. Plus, eating less meat and dairy in general, as I used to, makes me feel better physically and emotionally better.  I’m also not really drinking (and don’t say Dry January or I will tear out my hair but good for you if that’s what you like). For January, yes but not limited to. Drinking is expensive and unhealthy but I like it, so taking time off to break the habit is good for me. This also means that I had some red wine the other day but I’ve not messed everything up and decided to drink as much as I please.
Reading is something else that I let slip last year. There were months where I didn’t read a single book, which is pretty lame because I love books. To reform this habit my tall friend and I are making time to just sit and read before bed. If you want to be a better version of you the people that you love will want to support you, even in simple ways, it makes a difference.

What I’m doing this year is making changes I know I can keep. Using the past as evidence, I’m still looking forward to the year ahead and sticking to my convictions. As someone that really needs a bit of good in 2018 I’m cultivating it in myself. I’m feeling better and I’m hopeful.

 

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Falling, Then Getting Up Again

Recently I was getting regular exercise, I was building a new network of friends for the first time since high school, I was both financially stable and comfortable and (for the first time in a year) I was crafting a future that I could to look forward to. Then I lost all these things in one day.

I don’t like failing at things. I’m a highly critical person, a conscientious type that feels anxious about mismatched socks, so when I fail after trying at something I don’t take it well. It’s disheartening, upsetting and the bigger the thing the harder it can be to get over. I’d like to take a moment here and blame books and movies for this, it’s not often that when the hero tries their best that they don’t succeed. This is what young adulthood is for, I guess, gradually learning that things aren’t fair.

Losing at games isn’t too difficult for me, it’s not as fun as winning, but I’m mature enough to still enjoy playing and participate. But I could have taken my recent setbacks better. Too many days I spent on the sofa, staring at the Gilmore Girls, gently weeping, getting fatter and seemingly more hopeless.  My situation has changed slightly now, I don’t have any more Gilmore Girls to watch for a start, but now I’m out the house at irregular hours for shifts in another job that I’m not sure how long I will have. Also, with Christmas approaching it is difficult not to be constantly reminded how utterly broke I am. But after three months of moping I finally ready to pull my socks up, it is getting colder after all.

I need to take care of myself. If falling down a flight of stairs drunkenly and having a banged up knee for weeks has taught me anything it should be that. Facing that long term happiness isn’t at the bottom of a pizza box will be a challenge, but I have to make myself stronger. I don’t necessarily have mistakes to learn from, I just need to develop better ways of coping with failure because I know that more bad things will happen in the future. How I deal with them will determine if I grow or wither.

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So for anyone reading this who is also having a bad time, here are somethings that might help:

  • Cry: let it all out, ugly snotty sobbing. 
  • Find a source of positivity. I follow The Rock on Instagram, he posts about keeping fit, working hard and sharing that success with others. His public personality is giving and caring, it’s nice to have reminders of a little good in the world. 
  • Talk to your family. Whether that’s a partner, parents or friends. Hug and blow your nose on their t-shirts. If you would be there for them trust they’d do the same.
  • Leave the house. Some days leaving the bed can be hard, never mind washing/dressing/looking remotely presentable enough to be seen by outsiders. But fresh air is dope and leaving the house to get milk or visit the park can really make you feel better. I wish I had done so more. 
  • Take away things that you use/exploit in bad ways. For some people this could be eating all the chocolate in their house at once, for others it’s drinking certain types of alcohol alone until they can’t pick up the cup anymore. Just don’t hurt yourself more than you are already hurting.

So this is me saying hello again. I hope you are well like I’m trying to be.

On The Plate: Grub

Where: Mayfield? Near Piccadilly station in a building site with fairy lights
Price: ‘Trendy’ (overpriced)
Tastiness Factor: 2-10
Return Custom: Maybe during the afternoon, if it is nearby

What can’t fairy lights do? I ponder sipping a cool beer sat at a table underneath the scaffolding of a building site. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Hipster faux-utilitarian design taken a little more literally here where the metal piping is used to hold up tables and unfinished buildings. It works though, and the lights make everything a bit softer and look less like a building site. But let’s not kid ourselves, I’m no fool, fairy lights do not maketh the food establishment. That’s the food’s job. And at Grub there’s plenty of choice–if you get there early.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that there weren’t as many stalls as I had expected. No doughnuts or mac and cheese. Some of the stalls aren’t always the same but this was a little underwhelming. Particularly so after I spent the day pining over doughnuts from the Manchester Doughnut Company, that had been there the evening before. Google them if you want doughnut cravings so bad that the next day you will visit every shop within a mile radius of your house on foot in search of any doughnut only to be left empty-bellied and sobbing on a Sunday evening. Or so a friend of mine told me… The moral of the story is don’t believe in everything you see on Instagram. And no, that isn’t a typo, I believed in exquisite doughnuts.

Trauma aside, there were other stalls, six to be exact, and we tried something from all but one. No particular reason for the omission other than the size of our appetites and what we fancied.  We started with a steamed chicken katsu bun. The accompaniment of the warm soft bao bun with crispy katsu chicken was perfectly comforting, flavoured with the contrasting tang of pickled veg with creamy wasabi mayo. There wasn’t enough wasabi to get a taste of it, I understand that it is a difficult flavor to balance but after being used as a part of the description a mild burning in the nostrils would have been nice. Plus there wasn’t much food considering the price.

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Next up was cheesy potato croquettes with garlic aioli.  I’m not too sure what else to say about it. They were obviously great. You can’t mess up deep-frying cheese and carbs and as a spokesperson for mayonnaise with potatoes and a lover of garlic it’s a simple but uber-delicious combination. High on all necessary food groups to induce what feels like a hug for your tum. The contrast of the crispy potato shell with its gooey soft insides maximises texture pleasure reception. (And yes that is a thing!)

The stealer of the show, and possibly my heart, was undeniably the calzone. Fried dough pockets of cheese and fresh tomato sauce. I had never had a calzone before so I think I may understand what Ben from Parks and Rec is going on about now. But I’m quite aware that the calzones at Grub are of a much higher standard than ones that come with donner meat from a take-away that serves curries, burgers and pizza. This came from an Italian food stand whose crowning jewel is the hot oozing pizza pasty, known as the calzone. I’ve certainly been spoilt but I shan’t complain. Some first times are worth waiting for until the moment is right and this was the greatest moment. Lose your calzone virginity at Grub! If you have already had a calzone before, go and have this one too but don’t blame me when you don’t see the others in the same way any more.

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These foods I shared with my tall friend, to maximise our sample range. To fill up and explore things outside of our cross-palette Venn diagram. So I had, to describe plainly, a chicken sandwich. It was much more exciting than that; the bread was naturally gluten free and I can’t remember what it was now but it was big and surprisingly heavy. Filled with juicy spicy chicken with salad and avocado as tasty as it was messy to eat, which is quite. A few bites left and I had to hand it to my tall friend to finish off. It was the best value for money in terms of quantity.

But something was missing. I was craving the sweet release of fluffy dough and sugar. Then I made a mistake. I spent £3 on an upside down cupcake, whose flavour was described as ‘burnt butter’-that is a mistake, not a bold step for baking flavour profiles. It was disappointing and made me feel sad. And yes, that is a pathetic image. But maybe not as much as how this drove me to crying on a Sunday then eating four doughnuts after a bowl of zoodles on a Monday.

Grub is a good shout if you and a few friends can’t decide what to eat on a Saturday afternoon. Trusting that you are OK being ripped off a little, which is the cost of having multiple cuisine options that are high quality. If you go and get to eat doughnuts don’t tell me–or better–bring me a vanilla.

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Love

There have been a number of things that I imagined as a child that didn’t quite turn out as I expected. Expectations that were quite often set by films. There wasn’t a magical transformation between the ages of 14 and 17 in which I blossomed into a slim and beautiful woman worthy of a slow-mo sexy music intro in an early 00’s  male-lead rom-com. I’m not a talented tortured artist type whose depression is important because it makes you take me seriously. Depression makes me burst into tears in the middle of the day for no reason rather than contributing to anything creative*.  I’m not adopted nor have I developed any variety of superpowers, I’m utterly lacking in that ‘something’ that makes a children’s story heroine. When you are an adult you can buy anything you want at the supermarket and eat biscuits for tea if you like; this isn’t entirely untrue, getting drunk and eating three meal-sized portions of food from McDonald’s has happened but I ‘treat’ myself to raspberries these days because that stuff is expensive. To name a few things… But there is one thing that I got nearly right, but I’m quite happy to have been a bit off the mark.

When I was 11 I didn’t have a very high opinion of myself, something that dropped lower and lower as my teens progressed*, so much so that I couldn’t imagine ever meeting someone that would want to marry me. I wasn’t really someone super invested in the whole wedding fantasy thing, which I feel is more of a rom-com trope that it is real life, but from a young age I had that downer of a thought. This story doesn’t end with a wedding, this isn’t a pre-Frozen Disney princess film, but it turns out good. It is a pretty stupid thought to have and maybe if I could talk to the littler me I would tell myself that. “Dude you seen how many ugly people there are that are married and made babies? That could be you, you serious nerd!” That or something a bit less Anna Kendrick-y, because–let’s face it–I would have some serious emotional ground to cover to prepare myself for the ensuing 12 years. I don’t doubt that everyone would. Even if it is just to prepare for the embarrassment of drunken events.

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I think that the thing is, love always seemed so special and rare so why should I get that? I was right and wrong. And I’m glad to be both. I’m a romantic. Kisses in the heavy rain, holding hands, getting sad at train stations when you say goodbye and looking into the heart of the TARDIS so that you can get back to them and defeat the Daleks together. You know, the cheesy stuff that films say are real but your very cold and unromantic world says aren’t. Getting slowly older, and less of a teen, without having as much of a whiff in the direction of such things was difficult. Couples that had been together since before I was born were divorcing. Just like my grandparents (both sets) many years earlier. There were always ends. And there still are Brad and Ange, Chris and Anna, little things that make you doubt.

Turning 20 was a bit of a landmark. I wasn’t interested in waiting around for love anymore so I gave some to myself*. Then a bit more. Then I found that self-care didn’t just mean the ‘be nice to yourself’ stuff but also the ‘stop eating white bread’ and ‘stop hurting yourself’ stuff. I guess ‘stop hurting yourself’ might seem obvious, but we hurt ourselves in many ways. Thoughts more often than not. When I turned 21 I had lost a few fucks and a couple of stone. Loving came more easily to me because I realised something I wish that every 11 year old girl could say about themselves: I am worthy of love and I’m pretty darn great.

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Now the turn of events is pretty cliché. I’m not going to tell anyone that you have to love yourself before you find love somewhere else. Because we all deserve love, with the exception of neo-Nazis and people who walk slowly side by side with their friends on a busy pavement, nobody has to earn it. But learning to love and care for yourself is more important, other people die, or worse, go bald. Self-love is very difficult. Sometimes I doubt if things have really changed that much for me when I feel sick looking at myself naked and pinching at my flesh. But those feelings don’t linger like they used to. Part of this could change, if you aren’t well you can’t help the way you feel about yourself (hence, everyone deserves love even if they don’t think they do). Yet day by day, week by week things are much better. Bad thoughts come, but they don’t stay as long.

I knew that I would fall in love fast. Luckily I had a couple of false starts before the real thing. I got a taste of what it shouldn’t be without making any real investments. So as it happened I kept pausing, “Is this for real?” It was after 10 days together that I really knew. Not 10 continuous days, it was a little under a month, but 10 times of seeing one another. I knew because the words were pushing my tongue against my teeth. I was hearing them when they weren’t said. I felt them sweating out my palm. Of course though I couldn’t actually say them. Don’t be so crazy, I’m a writer not a performer. They were too precious. What if I said them wrong? They could break me.

But they didn’t. So now I get to say them everyday, thank you for my cup of tea – “I love you.” I like holding your hand- “I love you.” My face hurts from smiling too much when we are together- “I love you.” You bought me pyjamas with personified sushi on them – “I love you.” You made me sad but I forgive you- “I love you.” You’re my best friend- “I love you.” So few words that mean so much. And much more than I had hoped. They wrote the poems, painted the pictures, made the films and sang the songs but it is but better than all of that. It’s funny, weird, exciting but ultimately right. So right.

I’m glad I was proved wrong.

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(*I’m OK though.)
(*Seriously I am OK now.)
(*No not that kind of love!)

Returning to the Magic

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.

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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…