Tuesday, 7 December 2010


I’ve been eyeing up the blackthorn hedge, just in case I need to chop a bit off for the creation of a new magic wand. You never know if one of us might suddenly require one, but the blackthorn, from which standard wands are made, is plentiful. It seems that along with all this snow, there is a sprinkling of Potter magic across the land.

Have you seen it yet? The film? It’s another goodie, and it gears us all up nicely for the final-ever-actual-end-last-what-will-we-do-next film in the whole Harry Potter saga.

If I was 10 now, I reckon I’d be quite unable to keep my bedroom window shut. My childhood bedroom, a place I still frequent as the same house remains Parental HQ, has a tranquil view of a hill, and on that hill lives Hagrid. It’s not his actual Hut, of course, but it is the place to which Hagrid retreats when he isn’t being Hagrid, as it were. And post-HP, the hill has acquired a new glamour, particularly at night when all is silent and I perch at the window gazing onto the moonlit landscape, wondering when Hagrid might send me an owl with an interesting message.

So far zilch, but the magic of Harry Potter does not seem far away. The tourist board here in Scotland is apparently expecting a Harry Potter-induced boost to the industry....after all, it’s not just Hagrid that is originally Scottish, (obviously I KNOW he isn’t Scottish in the film, but he is in real life....I keep seeing him driving his classic cars up the road to the village Co-op). Tourists are expected to descend upon Scotland to pay homage to various HP hotspots for themselves...Glen Nevis, Glencoe, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and of course the cafe in Edinburgh where JK Rowling wrote the first book. These places have acquired a new fascination, a glamour tinged with magic dust that has become desperately enticing.

There are several Scots amongst the cast in these films, but it would be turgid to name them all. Frankly, any British actor who has not been in a Harry Potter movie must be feeling a mite peeved...it’s a wall-to-wall Who’s-Who of the great and good of British theatre. But I can’t resist mentioning one of my favourites. Dame Maggie Smith is of course an English actress, but there is no way in Muggle-land that Professor McGonagall could have had that wonderfully ‘refined’ Glasgow/Kelvinside/Hyndland accent if Dame Maggie’s mother hadn’t been from Glasgow. I can’t help being rather thrilled that this gem of an accent has gone global, thanks to Dame Maggie. So I’m sharpening my blackthorn clippers...Professor McGonagall is so very reminiscent of my own school teachers that I do sense, you see, I could still be summoned by the Ministry of Magic at the next flick of my black cat’s tail.

JK Rowling was apparently stopped recently by a fan who simply said, ‘You ARE my childhood.’ Can you imagine anything more heart-warming for a writer? Proof indeed that one person’s imagination can change the world. But as the films have rolled along, and rumours of Hollywood producers and animated characters were long-since crushed, I have become more and more relieved that JK stuck to her guns in insisting the films were made here in the UK. They are peculiarly, very peculiarly, British.

Thanks to overwhelming mountains of snow right now, our youngest has just finished reading her first Harry Potter. Fittingly, I may well celebrate with a swig of Sloe Gin, the concoction that has been gently distilling since I plucked the sloes from this very blackthorn hedge a few weeks ago. Having had ten years of Harry Potter playing a dominant role in the cultural appetites of this household, I think we know that HP has been a central character in many children’s lives, a source of solace and comfort, as well as adventure and humour. Thanks to JK’s flights of fancy, the joy of fiction has been discovered by thousands more children than it might have been. And now, publishers and book retailers are seeing a steady growth in the sales of children’s literature. Last year over 60 million children’s books were sold in the UK, bringing a most welcome £293 million into the book industry.

Pure magic.


  1. Haven't seen the newest film - our nearest cinema is 80 miles away, and there is the problem of leaving the dog. But - we did see HP and the Half Blood Prince on the TV this past weekend. I was surprised at how dark it was. Will just have to wait for the DVD

  2. Enjoyed that post.

    I thought it was "slow gin!" Didn't realise "sloe" was even a word. Oops.

  3. Very interesting! Yes, we are another house with children who have grown up with Harry Potter. I've not seen all the films but have enjoyed listening to Stephen Fry reading the books on various car journeys. I didn't know that Maggie Smith's mother was from Glasgow, but that explains her accent in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as well (right?).

  4. I think Maggie Smith's accent in that film was posh Morningside wasn't it? My boys are only 2 & 5 so I'm looking forward to introducing them to HP very soon.

  5. Freda, yes, they become darker as harry gets older, which can be a problem when one has younger kids wanting to keep up with the older ones...but I'm glad the older ones don't seem to grow out of it all.
    Mid Life, hilarious!! and it's delicious too.
    Christine and Ryan... yes it was the same accent she used for Miss Jean Brodie, which is of course set in Edinburgh...I reckon Edinburgh's Morningside accent is the equivalent of Glasgow's Hyndland one...both excellent for use in the correct theatrical/cinematic setting (and only when done properly, like Dame Maggie can do)
    and Ryan, how thrilling to have boys wee enough to still have HP ahead of them...spin it out as long as possible!

  6. Thanks for the wonderfull photo and i love reading Harry Potter , i,ve just read the last one again before going to see it.
    I will never get tired of reading these books,it is just like The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring, you can read them again and again.

  7. Yvon, you are music to the ears of any writers out there...hurrah for your reading habit!