Perhaps the biggest literary sensation of the last couple of decades were the Harry Potter books. My kids, especially the middle one loved them. Each new book and each new film was a major event, eagerly anticipated. It is of extraordinary credit to Ms Rowling that none of them were ever a let down.
Having said all of that, I
never really got them. I am not a big fan of fantasy novels of that
genre. This is probably something to do with being a fifty year old fart
! I just found the concept of flying broomsticks and platform 9 3/4's a
bit too ridiculous. I was thinking about all of this and then I
thought. I wonder how you could resolve the series, so that it was all
real and all true. What possible explanation could there be for this
fantastical flight of fantasy. It's probably just as well that I didn't
write the series as this would have been the final chapter.
7.45 in the Archway Tavarn. Harry is sitting with a pint of Guinness,
doing the Soduku puzzle in the Evening Standard. Ron is late. Ron is
always late. They've kept in touch for the past ten years, ever since
they left the psychiatric hospital, where they had spent much of their
childhood. Harry thinks back to those times. What was real, what was
fantasy. The hallucinations. The intrigue. The days out.
death of his parents had affected Harry terribly. Moving in with his
abusive uncle. The visitations in the night. The retreat into a fantasy
world, being taken into care. The friendships built with the other
patients. The attempts to create a better, more exciting world to hide
in. The teenage years, struggling to maintain the childish fantasies as
hormones started to run wild.
Then at 18, all of a
sudden you are an adult, cast into the world, finally independent,
finally on your own. Finally having to confront the demons. Given what
could have happened, Harry considered himself lucky. The friendships and
the fantasies had protected him, cushoned him. When he looked back, at
times he couldn't quite distinguish exactly what had been real and what
had been fantasies. How each little event had been spun into a whole web
of intrigue. The trip to Kings Cross Station to see a visit by steam
engine, had spawned the whole Platform 9 3/4 fantasy. The idea that we
could take a steam train from a non existant platform to a non existant
school for a fantastical adventure where we could save the world. The
fantasies had faded. In truth Harry could remember very little it was
all a jumbled mess (was that down to the medication, much of which Harry
had decided was necessary only to make the lives of the staff easier).
The hallucinations seemed more real than the life in the unit. And his
Uncle and his cousin. When finally Harry had confronted the issue and
reported the abuse, it turned out that his cousin, who he'd detested had
been just as badly abused. Wheras Harry had retreated into a fantasy
world, he'd retreated into food. At the time Harry had detested him, but
he'd realised that the abuse at the hands of his father had turned him
into a bully. The eating had turned him into the butt of all the jokes
at school. When Harry had finally found out the truth, they had realised
they were not that different, and had become close. Harrys Aunt was
still in denial as to the abusive nature of her husband. That in some
ways was the biggest tragedy, estranged even from her own son, due to
the wicked deeds of a man who deserved nothing but contempt.
sometimes wondered how he'd managed to get his life together. He had a
great job and a flat. Strangely all of his friends were doing OK.
Hermoine had moved to Australia and was working in IT in Sydney. She'd
decided that the best way to move on was to start a new life, on the
other side of the world. They were in touch by Facebook, but she felt
the need to keep a distance. She'd been over for a visit the previous
year and they'd had a blast.
As for Ron, he was Ron.
He'd become a used car dealer. Rons capacity for inventing magical
scenarios, which Hermoine then embroidered into fantastical landscapes
had found a lucrative outlet in the car trade. Ron could almost
instinctively tell what a customer was really looking for and could spin
a yarn to convince even the most sceptical buyer that the clapped out
old banger on the forecourt was really a chariot of the gods. Harry had
felt Ron could become a great writer of fiction if he'd been inclined,
but he was far more interested in cash and womanising to bother. He had
the gift of the gab and could charm the birds from the trees. Harry
could never understand how he'd repeatedly cheated on Hermoine. He felt
that had he ever got together with Hermoine, he'd have treated her like a
Goddess. As it was, Harry had problems forming close intimate
relationships with people. He felt that the abuse he'd suffered had
built a barrier that he found difficult to overcome. In the last couple
of years, he'd been in a relationship with Mary, a Yoga teacher. She was
kind and gave him space, but he was having trouble committing to the
relationship. At her instigation, he'd attended some relationshp therapy
sessions (for the first time in several years) and he'd finally
recognised the nature of his problems. He was working on improving
He pondered on how ironic it was that he'd
ended up as a sports Journalist, writing about football for a tabloid
daily. He'd never been the slightest bit interested in football as a
child. It wasn't even on the radar. Ron had taken him to see Arsenal at
Highbury after striking a lucrative car deal. Harry had been enchanted,
having never been to a match before. He'd written a blog about the game
and then started regularly attending and blogging his experiences. Ron
had mentioned to a mate who worked on the Sports desk at the Daily
Mirror that Harry had a great talent, and the next thing he was one of
their football writers. He was quite happy with the nomadic existence,
travelling the world to cover matches in far flung corners of the world.
The years of building up florid fantasies had served him well. Several
of his articles on young African players, plucked from poverty and
despair into a world of Ferrari's and Champagne appealed to his own
desire for a fantasy life, drew heavily on his own experiences in the
unit. He'd once asked one of these stars if he could really believe the
life he now had. The response had made him wonder with how he'd have
actually coped had his fantasy world become real.
had suggested to him that he should try writing a childrens book, based
on his youthful fantasies. She was enchanted with the idea and concept
of the world, Ron, Hermoine and Harry had cooked up whilst in a
childrens psychiatric unit. Harry felt that it was a ridiculous idea.
Who on earth would buy a book featuring kids flying around on
broomsticks or imaginary train services from imaginary platforms on
Kings Cross Station? Harry wondered how Ron and Hermoine had managed to
move on, yet he still often thought about those scenairos and fantasies.
Neither ever really talked about it and both seemed far happier in what
he felt were perhaps slightly humdrum roles. he enjoyed the travel. He
enjoyed the magic of major football tournaments in far flung haunts.
During the world cup in South Africa, he'd had an epiphany. He'd been
taken on a tour of the slums and townships and talked to some of the
children about the world cup. He'd suddenly realised that there were
hundreds of millions of children living in conditions which made his own
disturbed youth seem like a royal lifestyle. He'd never worried about
where his next meal was coming from, random street violence or police
repression. Yet despite this, these kids had a spark for life. The world
cup was a huge thing. We all need our fantasies.
looked at his watch, it was now 8pm, he'd been in a little dreamworld
thinking about his life and lost fifteen minutes. He hadn't done a
single line of the Soduku puzzle. Ron was late. Ron was always late.
Harry didn't get cross, that was Ron. At that, in he walked. "Oh, mate
I'm so sorry. I had this nightmare punter." Harry replied "don't, worry
mate, it's given me a chance to finish this Soduku". Ron said "Couple of
beers then a Curry". Harry replied "Suits me, I'll have a Guinness". As
Ron made his way to the bar, Harry looked at the date on paper. He
thought "Only a month until the start of the football season". He
realised that all things considered, things had turned out rather well
for the three little oiks from the unit.