Twenty years since the first Harry Potter!

In honour of the occasion, here is a monologue I wrote about ten years ago about sharing the Harry Potter magic:

LAURA: David and I met outside Waterstone’s on Deansgate in the midnight queue for the fifth Harry Potter. Sad isn’t it? We were both there on our own; my stepsister was supposed to be coming, and so was his girlfriend, but neither turned up so we just started talking.

We stood in the queue, chatting away, until twelve, when the shop let us in. By the time it got to us there was only one book left. Dave insisted I took it, but I said we should share it, so we went to a quiet pub round the corner.

First we tried to read together, but he read too slowly and I read too fast. Next we tried reading a page each and then swapping but that took ages, so we decided to read it out loud to each other. I can still hear his voice – he did a really good Professor Umbridge, you know, the way she’s always going ‘hem, hem’?

By the time the pub closed Harry had just got to Grimmauld Place and neither of us wanted to stop. We sat in the tram shelter on Market Street, huddled under our coats until it got light. I’d never found anyone else who’d stay up all night to read the book. We bought coffee and bacon butties from the greasy spoon by the station, then went to Piccadilly Gardens. The grass was still dewy so we found a bench, where we sat reading for six hours straight before we realised how hot, knackered, hungry, thirsty and uncomfortable we were. Dave went to get lunch and I lay on the grass with the book as a pillow. I nodded off and woke up later to find Dave asleep beside me. My sandwich was on the grass, the cheese softening slowly in the sun.

We moved back to the pub when it got dark, and finished the book just before closing time. We’d spent over twenty four hours in the company of a complete stranger, reading a book out loud, but it didn’t feel weird at all. We both went home after that, to sleep for about a week. And that was it. We hadn’t swapped numbers: we were in such a weird, sleep-deprived, post-Order of the Phoenix state we just didn’t think to, I suppose. I didn’t even know his last name, so when I joined Facebook – that useful stalking device – there was no chance of finding him. And the same for him, presumably, since David and Laura are probably the most common names in the country.

I was in India when the Half-Blood Prince came out, but when the last one was published I made sure I was at home. I went to Waterstone’s on Deansgate again and looked carefully at everyone in the queue. There were so many people! I heard someone behind me go ‘hem, hem’ and I spun round. But it wasn’t him, just some kid making his friends laugh. He wasn’t there.