Perhaps you were lucky enough to have wonderful teachers, but Albus Dumbledore would be a hard act for any head teacher to follow. His wisdom, wit and protectiveness over his students was second to none.
Remember that time in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Harry accused Dumbledore of abandoning the school? His angry reply said it all: ‘Please do not suggest that I do not take the safety of my students seriously.’
Then there was Remus Lupin who gave Harry private tuition so he could fight off Dementors. What better gift could a teacher give than a Patronus? ‘A pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope.’ Meanwhile, in Muggle life, extra maths tuition was never going to be quite as exciting... however excellent the teacher.
Reading about Hogwarts had us imagining we’d be solving at least one mystery a term during our own school years. Think again! No priceless magical objects hidden down the third-floor science corridor, no secret chamber under the sports hall, no school heirlooms scattered across the country in need of destruction. Nothing. The biggest mystery some of us had to face at school was why we weren’t allowed to write about the Harry Potter books in our English exams... or was that just us?
We thought physical education or games or sport – whatever your school called it – wouldn’t be so different to Quidditch. How very wrong we were. It turns out you can’t really compare Quidditch to any sport you might try at school. Why? Well, clearly it’s the best sport ever invented. Flying broomsticks, spectacular dives, signature moves (we’d all love a go at a Wronski Feint) and Quidditch heroes worthy of admiration – Viktor Krum, Gwenog Jones, Charlie Weasley. Not to mention that Quidditch teams are mixed, so it’s a sport that heroes equality.
P.E.’s only saving grace perhaps was that it was timetabled to end; in Quidditch, if you had a particularly slow Seeker, the game could go on for days. In fact, the record is six months – that’s a really long P.E. lesson.
When our own school dances, discos, and graduation balls came around, we’re sure we weren’t alone in imagining some version of the Yule Ball ¬– that glittering winter spectacular that was held in honour of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Perhaps you too had unrealistic expectations about the décor and pictured your school hall decked out ‘in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling’ with your classmates in elegant dress robes. And don’t forget the live fairies!
How our expectations crashed through the floor when everyone turned up in jeans, jumped up and down to the music, and the only refreshments were bowls of ready salted crisps. We’d rather have braved taking Cormac McLaggen to Slughorn’s Christmas party.
Much to our disappointment, it turned out that cafeteria food couldn’t really compete with Hogwarts feasts. From the way the food just magically appeared on the tables, to the sheer number of choices, our own Muggle school food didn’t stand a chance. Treacle tarts, Yorkshire puddings, flaming Christmas puddings, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas – to name a few delights. At Harry’s first ever banquet ‘He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table’. If you can say the same about your school food, then we are Slytherin green with jealousy.
Is it us or did Harry, Ron and Hermione always manage to avoid really serious trouble? Imagine if you had crashed a stolen car - albeit one belonging to your parents - into an ancient tree on school property? Expulsion would definitely have been on the cards. But Professor McGonagall didn’t even take any house points off Harry and Ron when they crashed Mr Weasley’s car into the Whomping Willow. And when it came to the Chamber of Secrets, they broke ‘about a hundred school rules into pieces along the way’ and then received Special Awards for Services to the School.
Huh, surely Muggle teachers would barely raise an eyebrow at small transgressions like running in the corridors, chewing gum in class or forgetting your sports kit?
No such luck. If only we could have had detention with Hagrid and unicorns instead of writing lines...
Harry, Ron and Hermione are true friendship goals but we’re not sure the expectations they created for our own are realistic.
We’re sure your friends are wonderful, but have you ever fought off a twelve-foot mountain troll with any of them? Or accidentally eaten slugs trying to stick up for them? Or believed in a friend so much that you agreed to destroy evil objects with them even though they had no plan whatsoever? You see our point.
But it’s worth saying here that friendship is always relative to the people who are in it, so we’re sure you have a mountain troll moment in your friendship story… even if it doesn’t involve troll bogies or Wingardium Leviosa.
One expectation that the Harry Potter stories gave us was that friendship is vitally important, and that wasn’t unrealistic at all.