Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harry Potter & The Last Crusade To The Bookshop Of Doom

Every Tuesday I get up at the crack of noon and walk along to the local shop to buy the Daily Record. (I say “walk” but probably “amble” or “mosey” would be a better description of my shuffling movement.) I pay for the newspaper, exit the shop and then engage in a little game to see how far I can travel on my journey back without flinging open the pages to see if they’ve printed my weekly column. Ten paces is my record to date.

Thinking up a few hundred words or so a week is a lot more challenging than I thought it’d be even though I’m writing mainly frivolous, observational pieces on anything and everything. Last week, when I told my pal Donald that the column was about a visit to the hairdresser’s, he rolled his eyes and mumbled something about “scraping” and “bottom” and “barrel”.

Anyway, today marks the sixth consecutive week they’ve printed what I submitted (woo hoo!) but it’s also the third week in a row that they haven’t updated their website with the articles. So if you’re housebound or a Guardian reader or overseas or trapped under something heavy (but can reach a laptop obviously), the main article from today’s column is posted below. In funky coloured type. Oh, and if you've already bought the Daily Record and are reading this for a second time, apologies for the lack of originality.

Regular readers of this blog (and you know who you are – although I don’t) will recognise the blatant plagiarism of previous posts. Although, is it plagiarism if you steal from yourself? And what would happen if you caught yourself stealing from yourself? Either a disastrous rip in the space time continuum would occur or you’d get trapped in the loop of an Austin Powers-type moment of madness. “Allow myself to introduce… eh… myself.”

I can’t tell you how much I loathed the first Harry Potter film. Well I could, but I’ve only got 600 words to play with here so I’d only be scratching the surface. From the precocious kids to the ludicrous ending when the magic stone thingy turned up in Harry’s pocket “as if by magic”, I detested the whole schmaltzy, overacted affair. Not even the rousing bit in the middle on broomsticks could get me excited, primarily because I was fast asleep at the time.

After listening to my scathing review, over eager family members would say things like “oh but you really must read the books” or “just use your imagination” but I remained indignant and unmoved.

“I don’t care what you say Dad,” I’d yell as I made a dramatic exit. “Harry Potter’s just rubbish and that’s that.”

I was only forced to re-examine my perfectly reasonable point of view when, earlier this year, I worked in America as a childminder helping a friend look after her two young sons. From day one the little tykes were full of questions about which Harry Potter story was my favourite and wanted to know what J K Rowling was like in person since I only lived 20 miles from her house. Radical action was called for so reluctantly I picked up the first book and started my essential childcare research.

For the next few weeks the kids went unfed and unsupervised while I was locked away in the captivating world of witchcraft and wizardry. Requests to play with matches and perform surgery on the family cat were approved with barely a nod as my nose remained buried deep in the pages of the books.

All of which led me to a local bookstore late last Friday night when I joined a few hundred other lost souls queuing for the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter adventure. The throng was made up predominantly of doting parents and hyperactive children as well as a few drunks who believed a new night club was about to open.

As the witching hour approached, squeals and yelps reached eardrum splitting levels and when the doors opened I was almost trampled to death in the forward rush. Luckily the bookstore staff, clearly ecstatic at having to work so late, maneuvered the mob calmly but ingeniously past every book in the store before we reached the tills.

With no air conditioning and painfully slow progress, the novelty of the occasion quickly wore off. At one stage I found myself stranded in the “self help” section for almost twenty minutes and seriously considered chewing “The Little Book of Calm” for light relief. Things didn’t improve when I reached the tills and paid for my purchase. Despite having pre-ordered the book I was refused one of the special edition souvenir carrier bags on the basis that I appeared to be over the age of 12.

“But it’s for my nephew,” I lied with a pitiful plea.

“Sorry sir. NEXT!”

So now I’m ready to embark on the new adventure but first, I need to finish the previous one. I’ve just got to the point where Harry has a Valentine’s Day date in a coffee shop with his first proper girlfriend, a girl in his year called Cho. Utterly confusing him with some devious feminine wordplay, she ends up running out of the shop in tears. I can barely bring myself to read any further, secure in the knowledge that Cho has realised she prefers older boys and will leave Harry’s feelings trampled and crushed.

Stick with the simple, single life is my advice to the lad. And do all your book purchasing on-line.


At 19/7/05 8:53 pm, Blogger The Other Half said...

you are very funny...thanks for stopping by my blog...if you caught yourself pledgerizing from yourself, would you press charges?

At 20/7/05 4:04 am, Blogger jk said...

How odd. I happened to put Harry Potter 5 down to check read a few blogs. (yup, i'm one of the losers who got a late start on the series and has to finish the previous books before starting the new one.) Yours was the first blog I pulled up. And, scary as it sounds, I just happen to be in the exact same place as you are (Cho and Harry in the coffee shop). Hmmm. I'm really pretty disturbed by the coincidence......Just thought I'd share.

At 20/7/05 5:54 am, Blogger carl said...

Does Mark Twain sound familiar, anyone? And knowing you Neil, you'd press charges on the off chance that you'd find an interesting story in it. "Man Arrested for Stealing His Own Story." Article on page 11.

At 22/7/05 11:12 pm, Blogger Neil said...

Pressing charges might prove awkward cos I've got no money for a lawyer so I'd want to represent myself... but then I might be too intimidated by opposing counsel!!!

At 9/8/05 8:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil I am beginning to worry about you.The man I met in Peru was all about telly but now yer into BOOKS?What is happening! The fact that you are madder than a nest of hornets is of little consequence, or consequench, whichever you prefer.Ah ye´d love the witches upstairs, they are gas.I have no idea what they are saying, but they cackle it several times daily and late at night. We just take the piss.Last night there was a thunderstorm and a huge cackle came from above followed by a giant fork of lightening striking right outside me window! I was petrolfied!(and nearly burnt to a walkers).


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