I went to the post office tonight to post a letter, only they had run out of stamps. According to Watching the English, the appropriate response in this situation is “Typical!”


This was on the screen at King’s Cross.  I didn’t get sick of watching it!

Potter in 100 words

The winners of the BBC competition.

Or, if you can’t be bothered clicking the link, this is my favourite:

“By the way, Harry,” said Professor Dumbledore halfway through book six, “a prophecy says that you alone can defeat evil Lord Voldemort. That’s why he keeps trying to kill you. You must destroy all seven pieces of his soul, and you’ve got one book left to do it in. Don’t expect any help from me; I’ll be dramatically murdered in two chapters’ time. Besides that, there’s exams to pass and hormonal stirrings to contend with. Now do you wish you’d gone to that Muggle comprehensive?”

Spoiler free!

So last night I hadn’t even figured out where I was going to buy Harry Potter, since most of the bookshops around here are independent, arty, secondhand, academic, glbt, etc etc.  I figured I might head up to Borders in Islington.  With that in mind I decided to take a slight detour to catch some Potter film locations on the way: First up was Grimmauld Place: (what do you think?  I might have to watch the movie again to check as I can’t find any pictures online)

(there’s a whole row of these houses around a rather grim looking square, just like in the books, except the square doesn’t feature in the movies)

Then St Pancras:

Then I headed into Kings Cross to grab a photo of Platform 9 3/4 before getting on the Tube to Angel, only silly me, there’s a WH Smith at the station and a queue starting to form.  So I became number 33 in the queue.

It was about 9:30 so I still had some time to go, but I’d packed Watching the English (an appropriate book to read in a queue, I felt) and my knitting.  There were some incredibly obnoxious Australians behind me talking at the top of their voices saying stuff like as soon as they got the book they were going to read the last page out loud (London seems to be full of obnoxious Australians, but I’m sure it’s not, they’re just so loud.  I’m sure there are also lots of quiet, polite Australians too, but they just blend in with the natives.  That’s what I try to tell myself anyway).  I was starting to think this was going to be a very long 2 2/1 hours…

The press were out and about, with one reporter going around asking if anyone was English.  I think maybe she was going for the English queuing angle.  I’d actually just read on the BBC website before leaving home that they were having a hard time finding anyone English in the Waterstones queue as well (people started queuing there on Thursday morning!).

A gorgeous French guy (like, really REALLY gorgeous) dressed as Harry Potter came up to me, apologised for his English, and asked if I knew what the programme was.  Unfortunately I couldn’t help him and he left!  Stupid Sarah, that would have been the ideal time to start talking in French to the guy!!

However right at that point a magician appeared in front of me and started showing card tricks to me and number 32.  He stayed with us for ages and showed us all kinds of tricks.  Number 32 turned out to be  25 year-old Kenyan girl called Allison, and thanks to the magician we got talking.  And then the evening flew by!  So I’ve made a new friend in the bargain. Thanks to the number system, we were also able to excuse ourselves from the queue for a few minutes to go here:

And at 10 the entertainment the French guy had been looking for started: lookalikes, the magician (who had started early), and face painting.  The lookalikes in particular were pretty good:

At 12:00:50, Professor Sprout led the countdown, and at 12:01 we were finally allowed through “Platform 9 3/4” (a hanging thingy they’d put up with a slit in the middle to walk through), grasp our copies of the book fresh from the boxes, and proceed to the checkouts with haste!  And then block our ears as one of the obnoxious Australians made good on the promise to reveal the ending.

Actually it’s really funny, but since I bought the book I’ve had more strangers in London talk to me than I have in the whole two months I’ve been here.  On my way home a group of Gypsy (Roma?) women asked if they could look at it.  Then in the patisserie this morning a couple asked if it was good.  Then in the park a guy out with his family marvelled at how far through I was.  There really is something very magical about Harry Potter.  I’ve made a new friend and all of these Londoners are actually talking to me!

Loved it, by the way.

Grimmauld Place

Still on Harry Potter (and no doubt will be for some time leading up to and after next weekend).

When I saw the film the other day I almost went nuts when I saw Grimmauld Place.  The style of the terraced houses was identical to the typical building style here in Bloomsbury.  I was absolutely convinced I had seen Grimmauld Place before and that it must be somewhere near here!  That would be borne out if the filming location chosen for Grimmauld Place is in reality close to Kings Cross, as it is in the story.

So I did some internet searching and didn’t really turn up anything concrete, until I saw mention on a forum that Grimmauld Place shows up on Google Maps.   How about that?  You will recall that I live on the corner of Judd and Cromer, just a couple of blocks southwest of where Google Maps puts Grimmauld Place.  I’ll have to wander over and take a photo someday soon.