For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who have encouraged this passion, from my parents reading to me every night as a child, to friends recommending me something new.
At 10 years old, my teacher Ms McCarthy gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to read. I, like millions of other children, fell in love with The Boy Who Lived.
Over the years I’ve queued for book launches, made a pilgrimage to the cafe where JK Rowling first put pen to paper, and squealed like a piglet at the Studio Tour. Twice. When Cursed Child was announced I was wary but I was desperate to get tickets regardless. A three-pronged family attack on release day meant we secured tickets for 9th July and I was so excited on when the day finally rolled around that I felt like I’d drank 18 cups of coffee and was made of bouncy balls.
The play(s) was magical and once again I was part of this tight knit but bloody enormous community. Every person there (give or take a few parents/other halves that may have been dragged along) felt privileged to be let into a new part of the Harry Potter world. It’s the most delicious secret to keep, knowing that no real fan actually wants to find out what happens on stage at the Palace Theatre until they experience it for themselves.
And then last weekend, the mania continued, this time with the midnight launch of the script book. I’ve been too busy to sort out any kind of fancy dress, but of course the fandom was out in force and absolutely nailed it; from the girl who made Dobby’s ears out of a coat hanger, to the woman dressed as Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. The queue snacked around Waterstones in Piccadilly where we were given gold envelopes containing tokens for butterbeer, raffle tickets and a map detailing what activities were on each floor.
Now, full credit to the Waterstones visual merchandising team because the place looked incredible. There were real props from the films, a makeshift Quidditch pitch, and a string quartet playing the iconic score. Delving deeper we found out complimentary drinks in a pop-up Leaky Cauldron, set on Diagon Alley with its own sweet shop and Flourish & Blotts. We also managed a respectful 21 out of 22 in the quiz!
When midnight hit, the queue wrapped around the stairs in the centre of the store and after everyone had counted down, a chorus of Happy Birthday was in sang in celebration of Harry’s birthday. Pre-packaged and pre-paid for, I got my hand on my copy of the script without too much wait and ran gleefully out of the store.
The midnight launch isn’t about being first or ‘proving’ how much I love this magical, make-believe world. It’s just the thrill of being in a room with hundreds of likeminded people who love something as much as I do. It’s a really special experience, and a rare one at that.