Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter Night

This was the scene in front of Browsers Books on Talisman Square in Kenilworth at 12:01 a.m. GMT Saturday, as the first copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were flying magically off the shelves. Earlier in the evening, to make a proper holiday of it, Clara and Peter and I went to the Odeon in Coventry to see the film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now begins the long and arduous process of reading all 607 pages (in the English edition) out loud.

Update: Photographs of the much larger celebration back home in Northfield, Minnesota, can be viewed here. Among those queuing up in front of River City Books are our friends Jeff and Mary, whom we will be overjoyed to see in less than a month!

Muggle magic on the London Underground.

In the latest film, there's a wonderful little throw-away scene in which Harry and Mr. Weasley, on the way to Harry's trial at the Ministry of Magic, travel on the Tube. Mr. Weasley sees a Muggle use an Oyster Card—an electronic Tube pass that the user waves over a sensor—and tries to wave his hand over the sensor to open the barrier. The barrier, of course, doesn't open, and Harry (with more first-hand experience of the Muggle world) shows him how to put his ticket into the slot to open the barrier. I love Mr. Weasley's sense of wonder at the Muggle world. In the magical world, children spend seven years at Hogwarts learning, sometimes with great difficulty, to point a wand at something and make something happen. These ingenious Muggles simply wave an Oyster Card and the remarkable underground world of the Tube opens up to them. So much easier than flicking a wand with exactly the right wrist action and saying something in Latin with just the right tone of conviction.

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