Saturday, June 21, 2003


When leaving a cinema in central Croydon a little after 1am this morning, I saw a lengthy queue outside the W.H. Smith store, which was the only shop in central Croydon to have opened at midmight to sell the new Harry Potter book. (The two main bookstores in Croydon are in a mall and the mall was closed, so they didn't have the option). Given that they had been open for an hour at that point, they were selling in awful lot of books given it was the middle of the night.

While I am looking forward to reading the new Potter book, I am not so enthusiastic as to stand in a long queue at one in the morning for it. (Some people were, however. I received an SMS message in the middle of my film consisting of the words "I've got it" from a friend of mine with an Oxbridge Ph.D.) I actually ordered the book from Amazon on March, and while I received an e-mail from them yesterday morning saying that it had been posted, I am still hoping that it gets delivered on time.

In any event, at about 8.30am this morning, I heard the doorbell ring. "Great", I thought. "It's my Harry Potter book". However, it turned out to be my photographs of my Spanish trip, which I had sent to a cheap, mail order film processing place for processing. (They used some alternative delivery service rather than the post office, so the two things were not delivered by the same person).

This was quite disappointing. I had quite forgotten about the photographs, and when I had answered the door I had thought that it was my book for sure. However, as a small consolation I can offer you this picture of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

Update: The book came at about 9.30am. Interestingly, rather than coming in a standard sized Amazon box, and containing a personalised receipt, as is normal with Amazon, it came in a special sized box designed for this particular book, and it also came with a mass-produced receipt which did not have my name (or the price) on it. Clearly, to make the process of getting a large number of Harry Potter books to customers on time as smooth as possible, Amazon had a large number of the books prepackaged in boxes, and they just slapped address labels on them. In any event, my compliments to them. They got the book to me in the morning on the day of publication.

As for the book, it is a bit slow so far. It takes 180 pages to get to Hogwarts. The mood feels right: there is a sense of foreboding about the fact that Lord Voldemort is back. However, to tell whether Ms Rowling is being self-indulgent or not, I shall have to see how significant the events of the first 180 pages are to the greater plot.

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