Argus Abroad: For Harry Potter Fans Only
To the five or so Wesleyan students who are not massive Harry Potter nerds, my apologies. To those of you who had normal and fulfilling childhoods, read on.
I have believed for many years that I know Harry Potter inside and out, back to front. On my most recent listen of the first audiobook (yes, I’ve listened to it multiple times), I could recite the text at ease, keeping pace with Jim Dale, as I imagine many of you could. However, there are many small references that one simply cannot understand without having spent some time in the U.K.
For this reason, Argus Abroad proudly presents: Harry Potter: Explained!
The Knight Bus: We all know that a stranded witch or wizard may flag down the Knight Bus. What you probably did not know is that the London Underground stops running at midnight, after which point a stranded Muggle may flag down the Night Bus.
Treacle Tart: You may remember it as Harry’s favorite dessert, as evidenced by the fact that the Amortentia in Slughorn’s dungeon smells to him like the dessert, a broomstick, and Ginny. Treacle tart is a traditional English dessert, made with shortcrust pastry, a thick filling of golden syrup (a.k.a., treacle), breadcrumbs, and lemon juice. Having now personally partaken of treacle tart, I can assure you that Harry does not lead us astray. It really is that good.
The Ministry of Magic Lift: It is not only magical elevators that announce the floors in the U.K. All lifts in London do, in a voice that can only be described as “cool” and “female.”
Fleur Delacour: Our flats here are supposed to be cleaned every two weeks by cleaning people hired by our university. When our cleaning person failed to show up for several days after our flat was supposed to have been cleaned, it was probably a total coincidence that no one in the flat seemed to take any issue except the French Girl, who vehemently complained:
“Zis is ridiculous! Eet ’as been weeks! If zey are going to give us zis sort of floor, zey ’ave to clean eet!”
Probably a coincidence. Alternatively, she might be a distant cousin of Fleur’s.
Attire: London has a huge immigrant population, and unlike in the United States, there does not seem to be a widespread effort to assimilate. There are enough people walking around the streets in ethnic or religious attire with which I’m unfamiliar that I probably wouldn’t look twice at a person in wizard’s robes if, by chance, one should wander about celebrating in the middle of Muggle London on, say, the day the Dark Lord was supposedly defeated by a baby. Wizards trying to don Muggle attire to blend in isn’t much of an issue either—Wes hipsters have nothing on London hipsters. If I saw “a bloke walking around in a kilt and a poncho,” I would assume it was a fashion statement.
Grimmauld Place:The dingy row houses that litter the seedier parts of London really do look like they could swallow up a unit without anyone noticing the missing number.
The Quidditch Cup: Have you ever been confused by the assertion that Harry mustn’t catch the snitch until Gryffindor is at least 60 points up or else Gryffindor will win the match but lose the cup? I know I have. A brief explanation of the English football league system will elucidate some things. A team in the league gets three points for each win, one point for each tie, and zero points for each loss. When it comes to tournament time, if the two teams are tied in those points after the final match, the team with the most individual goals over the whole season wins. Using this logic, it makes complete sense that Gryffindor needed to beat Slytherin by 210 points in the final match of Harry’s third year in order to win the Cup because each team had won the same number of matches, but Slytherin had scored 20 more goals over the course of the season.
Now all that’s left to figure out is whether it really is possible for six people of approximately the same size as Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna to fit into a phone booth like the one that serves as the visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic! Research forthcoming.