I truly believe, in the same slightly-insane way I believe all my favorite fictional worlds are secretly real and I’m in them, that if I’d gone to Hogwarts I would have been sorted into Ravenclaw. So when my friend and I chose to wear costumes to the midnight screening of Deathly Hallows Part 2 in July 2011 as “post-battle-of-Hogwarts students”, I jumped straight into my Ravenclaw robes and bloodied myself up a treat. It was a moment I’d been waiting ten years for…
My history with all things Harry Potter is long, detailed, and – at times – obsessive. I asked for the four then-published books for Christmas 2001, and my lazy then-boyfriend left them in a shopping bag behind my bedroom door. Gently, so the spines wouldn’t crease and no one would know my Christmas crime, I read all four before the first of December. I was wandering around speaking in a fake English accent for weeks, and wishing I knew any other fans to talk to. As it happened, I was about to meet a bucket load of them.
By early 2002 I had moved to Australia’s Gold Coast (picture LA at its trashy bleach-blonde-fake-tan best) and taken a job at the theme park/working movie studio called Movie World (filming location for majority of Thor: Ragnarok, even as I write). I had scored a role as a guide on the official Harry Potter set tour. Merlin’s Beard! Not only was I surrounded by like-minded Harry fans, but I was getting paid to wander around speaking in a fake English accent, waving a wand, climbing on Aragog and the Hogwarts Express, and sometimes just running – noisy and giddy – along the cobblestones of Diagon Alley. It was heaven.
Alas, like Felix Felicis, the spell eventually wore off… The Harry Potter set at Movie World was packed up and shipped to Leavesdon for a more permanent home, I got a haircut and real job, and three further books – then eventually all eight movies – came out to conclude the saga.
After the final movie I felt sad, nostalgic, weepy, and uncertainly hungover for a short while, but I got over it. I had other book-to-film obsessions (I’m a little embarrassed to include the Twilight Saga in there), other TV and music obsessions… Heck, by that point in life, I’d been to a San Diego Comic-Con! I knew how big and awesome the world at large was, and I had subconsciously shelved Harry, Ron and Hermione into a childhood chapter of my life, and moved on without them.
In fact, so removed was I from the HP-verse that when the words “Cursed Child” started appearing in my Facebook news feed this year, I had to do a spot of discreet Googling to sound in-the-know. I purchased the publication of the script the day it was released because that was what was expected of me, and read it with roller-coaster levels of engrossment and disinterest.
My thoughts on The Cursed Child shall come later, however – my challenge first is to re-read the seven Harry Potter novels with the fresh eyes of a full-grown adult. To reflect on the good moments that captured me wholeheartedly more than sixteen years ago, and to analyse the bad moments that led me to lose track of my copies of half the books and need to borrow from friends to get a wriggle-on with this reread challenge.
I’ve got a lot of reading to do, so please check back with me over the coming weeks as we get our first letter from Hogwarts, survive our first battle with a Basilisk, take our first ride on the Knight Bus, watch our first ally die needlessly at our feet, abruptly go through puberty together, and eventually get serious about this saving-the-world gig. It’s going to be magic…