‘Of course this is happening inside your head Harry but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’
This quote for me sums up what Harry Potter means to me, it’s also the line that made me sob the hardest during the final film.
I was 13 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, so I wasn’t there right at the beginning-oh what I’d give to be those lucky people who had that first book read to them in Primary School! But I discovered Harry soon after, funny thing is I don’t actually remember exactly how or when, it’s as if he’d always been there. I do have though about 13 years of Harry Potter as a backdrop to my life, that magical place you escape to where everything is so very different but somehow completely like home.
It’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me that Harry Potter grabbed my imagination, I already lived in books as a child so it’s no surprise that I was ready to be whisked off to Hogwarts the minute I got my hands on the book. The world was magical the characters were people I wanted to know, I wanted to be real, I still do. Book three was the book that really hooked me, I so wanted a Godfather like Sirius to sweep into my life and be completely fantastic and also kind of make everything better, if only for a little while.
I always identified with Hermione-the not very pretty clever one who was friends with the boys. Yup that pretty much sounds like my childhood except I wished I could be her just so I could go to a school where being clever only got you good natured taunts from your future husband rather than beaten up in the playground. She gave me hope that being clever would somehow somewhere be a good thing, be useful be something people respected rather than mocked. Hermione taught me that you don’t have to be beautiful to be the heroine that you can come from a different background and still fit in; she also taught me that you should speak your mind and stand and fight.
For anyone who doesn’t love Harry Potter or for those who have been a casual reader/viewer it’s hard to explain what the last fifteen years have meant. In the time since Harry Potter was published I’ve gone through High School and Exams, University and first jobs. I’ve moved cities many times even moved countries. I’ve made friends and lost friends, possibly made a few enemies, and far too many people have died. What’s that got to do with Harry Potter? That’s just life right? Well yes but two things, one Harry Potter provides a backdrop, a measure of time against which these things happened, which makes you pause, take stock. Second this thing I love, this magical inspiring thing has always been there providing an escape, comfort. Harry Potter like any book, and anyone who really loves books will understand this, is a friend you go to when the real world gets too much.
At different times and places Harry has helped me find friends, like AA meetings but less secretive we seem to somehow find each other. From seeing Goblet of Fire in Canada and ‘casting’ our actor friends in the film over apricot beer afterwards, to seeing Deathly Hallows part 1 with my eight months pregnant friend thinking, youngest Potter fan ever? (Probably because if his Mom doesn’t read it to him I will). I saw the final film with a friend I’ve only known a short while, two people I’ve met only once before and another I met that day and I couldn’t have asked for better people to see that film with-fans who speak my language and most importantly didn’t think I was a crazy person for sobbing like a baby. All joking aside it meant a lot to me to see the final film that way. Oh and as an aside, the friend I’ve known for a short while will forever be a little piece of Harry Potter in my head having played Harry in a madcap idea of mine; ‘Ciao Harry’
Although I’ve talked a lot about the fictional world of Potter and what it means, how it’s tied up in real life, I can’t write this without writing about JK Rowling. What can I say? A woman who imagined this glorious fantastic world that inspired millions, a woman who showed the publishers that if you’re that good at what you do it doesn’t matter who you are or whether it says Joanne or JK on your books. A woman who is yes very wealthy but got there on talent and hard work and dedication, a woman who took charge of what she made and didn’t let anyone dilute or alter it. I could talk all day but really all I need to say is: JK Rowling you inspire me, you are my hero.