Sunday, 14 July 2013

Harry Potter - The final chapter (the one J.K Rowling should have written)

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.
It's 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.

The 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.

Harry 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 these.

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.

Mary 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.

Harry 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.

1 comment:

tw said...

Great writing - What a realistic perspective!
Very moving.