So I’ve been thinking a lot about stories. My Grandad would always have these amazing stories of his life and so did my Mum but I’ve been thinking for ages and couldn’t think of a single good story up until now. So sit back and relax.
It was the summer of 2005, I was 10. We had bravely decided to camp in Scotland and it had been awful. The rain would not give us a break and it got so heavy that we had to get flat cardboard boxes to lie outside between the tent opening and the path to stop us from getting sucked into the wormhole-like mud. But there were a few precious days when the sun was out and this story takes place on one of those days.
Now if you know me at all well, you’ll know that I have an obsession with Harry Potter passed down from my Mother. So we decided to go to Alnwick castle where a lot of the filming for Harry Potter took place. I was beside myself with excitement. We had the best time figuring out which bits of the castle where in which bits of the film and walking where the cast and crew walked. It was a dream come true. What topped it all off though, was seeing in the distance two men dressed as Hagrid and Dumbledore doing a performance in the outdoor eating area of the castle.
By this time it was very hot so we decided to get ice creams and I uncharacteristically ate mine very slowly so I could savour the sweet coolness it bestowed in my mouth. So we go to watch this performance and I sit at the very front quietly eating my ice cream. I’ve always been very short so I wasn’t bothering anyone. Suddenly, Hagrid asked for a volunteer and I saw that my time had come. I pushed my hand into the air as far as it could go and low and behold, he chose me.
Hagrid said he was going to make me a witch using fairy dust. I wasn’t stupid, okay, I knew that this wasn’t Hagrid and I knew that he definitely couldn’t turn me into a witch so I look at my Parents, confusion in my eyes and they make these strange motions like they were on fire. I turned back to Hagrid who grinned at me like the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and reached for a salt shaker from one of the tables. I look back to my Parents and I realise that they were making frantic gestures to finish my ice cream as fast as I could. I looked down into my ice cream cone, I still had half of the glorious cold goodness left. I thought:
“My parents are crazy, I want to savour this ice cream!”
And looked back to Hagrid, salt shaker in hand. He asked me to hold out my tongue and he would shake the so-called fairy dust onto it, after which I would have magical abilities. I knew he was lying. He didn’t even have the decency to discreetly shake the salt into his hand, he actually thought I was stupid enough to believe that a salt shaker that he clearly took from the table now had fairy dust in it. I was so mad! So I shook my head. And he tried to persuade me that it was ‘quite safe’ but I was having none of it. I clamped my mouth shut.
What he did next still shocks me. This massive, terrifying beast of a man reaches down, takes hold of my head and my jaw and tries to open my mouth by force. Luckily, he didn’t have a very good grip on my face so I shook out of it and looked to my Parents like “What the heck?! Do something, he’s crazy!” But all they were doing was making the same gestures to eat my ice cream, now even more frantically so. I couldn’t believe that they would care about something like this but soon I would understand. Hagrid – seeing that putting salt in my mouth wasn’t going to happen – takes my ice cream and pours the salt all over the remainder of the iced treat.
He says to me in triumph something like “Now if you eat that, it’ll definitely turn you into a witch” I can’t even remember exactly what he said because I was so filled with rage. When someone that small is filled with that much anger, it’s dangerous. To my surprise, everyone starts clapping and walking away to enjoy the rest of their day at the castle. I was just left there looking at my ruined ice cream. I went over to my Parents who were sadly shaking their heads and I asked if I could have another ice cream. My Dad says “No, it was your fault for not finishing it quickly enough. We told you to eat it and you didn’t.” It probably wasn’t meant to sound mean but that’s the way I heard it.
My. Fault. MY FAULT?! I was so annoyed. My vision went red, I started forming plans for the man that ruined my beautiful ice cream and then I remembered. My Dad had happily been clicking away with his camera, setting the events in stone. I was raining champion in our house for the most photo albums because I never really minded getting my picture taken. I knew that somewhere on that blessed roll of film was evidence that I could show to people of the day Hagrid ruined my life. I mean, I was only 10, what Hagrid did was unacceptable in my eyes. That roll of film meant everything to me.
So when it was time to go home, we were getting ready for one last picture of the castle in the evening light when my Dad opened the camera and let out a groan. My Mother ran over, this was also a very important day to her as she was such a huge fan of Harry Potter, so that roll of film meant nearly as much to her as it did to me. And all I hear from my Dad’s mouth was “I forgot to put film in the camera.”
My Mum went ballistic. I had lost. Me 0, Hagrid 1. Harry Potter fans have been known to hold grudges but no- one has held a grudge as successfully as I have against that Hagrid. To this day, my parents know never to mess with my ice cream and now so do all of you.