This is my piece on the end of Harry Potter that was published in The Derry News feature page on 14 July 2011. It may not be a big deal but I was very proud! Cathy from work stuck it up in the canteen and threatened to laminate it, and 8 people text me during the day to say they had read it and ‘good job.’ It really cheered me up as I was working the late shift.
Big thank you to my friend Dermott who asked me if I wanted to write it. Keep me in mind for anything else, and I hope you enjoyed the big finale at midnight last night!
I got 2 requests to put it online as people missed it. Here it is if you want to read it:
A World without Harry Potter
Fiona Mc Callion
“Harry Potter is over. See you in therapy.” That’s what one of the placards at Trafalgar Square read on Thursday as thousands of fans gathered and camped out for the final Harry Potter World Premiere. This may seem less funny when we are on the other side of the credits this week in the silence after Deathly Hallows Part 2. There will be more tears than the time Dumbledore died. The first Harry Potter book was published in the summer of 1997. That’s 14 years of Harry Potter’s adventures, in both words and on the big screen. No wonder it’s going to be hard to let go. The last book was hard enough. But at least when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published there were still films to look forward to, to keep us going.
I was 9 when I first discovered Harry Potter. So I can
genuinely say that I grew up with him. I found a copy of the second book: ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ in the Shantallow Library in 1998 and I vividly remember taking it off the shelf and the name ringing a bell in my head. I don’t remember when exactly J.K Rowling reeled me in with the boy wizard, the horrible Dursley family, the escape in the flying car, the terrifying monster in the Chamber and the diary that wrote back, but the 9 year old me was hooked. I must have snaffled the Philospher’s Stone from somewhere to catch up. I was with my cousin when she bought the newly published third instalment ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban’ (1999) from the pyramid of books in Easons and I eagerly hopped from one foot to another waiting for her to finish it. Being very shy, Harry kept me company, opened my imagination and eventually gave me things to talk about with other girls I met in the ‘big school’. I loved trying to guess what was going to happen: if Snape was really evil, whether Sirius was really dead, was Ron ever going to kiss Hermione? We concocted predictions but were hardly ever right… J.K Rowling created a whole world and outsmarted us every time to our upmost delight. The years between publications were frustrating but exciting times.
Not living in America, there were no midnight book launches or dressing up. My Dad pre-ordered each book for me, (perhaps so that I couldn’t try to talk him into driving me to the nearest 24 hour Tesco dressed in a cloak at midnight) and they usually came on sunny July Saturdays, and I skipped out to the Amazon man who smiled as he handed over a brown package, each bigger than the last. I tried not to gobble the book up in one go, reluctantly closing it every few chapters left to try to savour this fresh new escapade- my heart in my mouth as Harry and co. ran headlong into all sorts of trouble, my heart breaking as they experienced loss and love and we tried to grow up together.
The movies succeeded in capturing the magic of the books- that haunting theme music will forever send a shiver down my spine. The films gave us something more to look forward to, and a deep sense of satisfaction when the director orchestrated a scene the exact way that you had imagined while reading it. For the first few film adaptations, my Dad took myself, my brother and sister to Letterkenny’s cinema and it was an adventure in itself, filled with excitement. More recently my boyfriend has sunk down in his seat, mortified as I almost shout ‘That didn’t happen in the book!’ at sporadic intervals during the screening.
I’m not sure there ever is going to be a world without Harry Potter. Our generation experienced the frenzy of publication in real time, but tomorrow’s children will have a complete collection of books and now films- a fully formed world ready to be explored If I ever have my own children, I will happily pass on my battered books as they near that all important 11th birthday. It may not be the letter that they hoped for, but it’s nonetheless a first class ticked aboard the Hogwarts express.
I’m bursting to see the big finale of the Harry Potter series, Deathly Hallows Part 2. I will be equally excited and deeply saddened as our journeys come full circle. I’ll round up my friends to say goodbye to my oldest companions; Ron, Hermione and Harry. There is so much more I could say about Harry Potter and what this final milestone means. But I will leave you with the words of the gifted lady who started it all, J.K Rowling, whom I admire so much, as she assured fans on Thursday, “The stories we love best live in our hearts forever, and whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”