Dear Dave

Friday 3 August 2007

Harry Potter and the light switch of chaos

Dear Dave,

Hurrah! I'm back to being only two Harry Potter books behind again.

Sarah and I managed to see Order of the Phoenix at the cinema and it inspired me to finally get round to reading the book. I think after all that, though, I actually preferred the film. Admittedly, this was probably partly because I saw the film first but I also found the book had rather too much padding. It could do with being a couple of hundred pages shorter. There's a lot of backwards referencing, plenty of forwards referencing and a great deal of scene-setting but not much happens until close to the end. On top of that, all the reminders of exams, tentative first attempts at dating and being fifteen in general weren't that pleasant. The film, meanwhile, managed to cover everything of importance in a visually arresting style. The scriptwriters even had the courage to change some of the details of the plot in order to make a better film.

Of course, I still have quite an urge to read book six now. I'm not sure I dare start just yet, though. Sarah has already re-read it since reading Deathly Hallows and the kids are becoming restless with all the time we're spending at Hogwarts. Marie in particular is getting fed up. "You reading Harry Potter!" she says excitedly as she skips over to the armchair. Then she jumps up and down and says, "You stop now," and closes the book on my thumb. I open the book again. She puts her head to one side, pouts and say, "Awwwww!" I throw her a ball or something then go back to the book but it's all quite off-putting.

I'm also wondering what she'll try next when she realises this ploy isn't working. For instance, she's taken to claiming that her food goes from her plate to her mouth, down to her tummy, into her legs and then into her socks. I'm slightly worried that soon she's going to cut out the intermediate stages and put the food straight from plate to socks just to grab my attention.

Let's face it, that will probably work.

I should stop while I still can. Things are already out of hand:

We were staying at my parents' house the weekend that the new book came out. While we were there, I fitted a smoke detector in their landing light. It recharges whenever the light is on and thus, so long as the light is used regularly, the battery should never go flat. The alarm does have one minor flaw, however - testing it involves switching the light off and on again in quick succession. This make accidental testing rather easy.

The night I installed it, Sarah and I were sitting downstairs in the lounge reading Harry Potter books. My dad went up to bed and switched the landing light out. From upstairs, there was a muffled sound of my mum telling him off - the children might fall down the stairs if they got up and went wandering around in the dark. Dad switched the light back on.

The alarm started going.

There was frantic shouting from my mum about not waking the kids, mixed with muttering from my dad and the sound of the light being switched off and on rapidly. The alarm continued to wail.

Sarah and I both looked up from our books. The light seeping under the door from the stairwell was strobing erratically. We glanced at each other and I shrugged. We returned to our books. My parents continued their private rave on the stairs. The kids did not stir. We went back to reading.

Several hours later, we were still there. My dad went to the toilet. He switched off the landing light. He instantly remembered and switched it back on again. The alarm went off. My mum shouted. My dad muttered.

Sarah and I both looked up from our books again. The light flickered under the door once more. We both stared at the ceiling for some time and waited patiently for the chaos to pass.

When it eventually did, we paused for a few more moments, listening out for the children. Luckily, however, there was only a dark remnant of muttering from my parents' room. It had been a close call. Sarah shook her head, sighed and looked at me. "Muggles!" she said despairingly.

I nodded. We both went back to our books.

I think I must have been quite drowsy by then. Everything went a little strange.

As time passed and the fire burned low in the Gryffindor common room, we continued to read. After all, we had OWLs in the morning and plenty of revision still to get through. 'Accio beer!' I called and it flew into my hand (although it did seem to say, 'There you go, dear,' in Sarah's voice). Minutes turned into hours and the night drifted away...

I was woken in the morning by a trio of boggarts jumping on my head. I was unable to make them vanish. The day slipped by in a tired blur punctuated with squabbling.

Didn't stop me staying up late again to read some more, though. Which reminds me, I should get to bed early tonight.

Maybe just one chapter first...

Yours in another world,


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