We spent over four hours in open-mouthed wonder
AFRIEND of mine told me the other night that whenever his daughter has a bad day she turns to a Harry Potter book and the world seems a better place.
She's now in her early twenties but like so many of her generation she grew up reading about Harry and his friends.
My children, now 13, 15 and 18, have done the same. And I've lived through Harry's adventures with them.
At different times I have stood waiting until midnight inside various Bristol bookshops ready for the latest edition in J K Rowling's series to be formally unwrapped and launched.
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I even once ended up in Asda at Cribbs Causeway with two of my three children in tow waiting for the hands of the clock to turn 12.
The memory of leaving the store at 12.15am and seeing a line of literally hundreds of parents and children queuing to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will long remain with me.
A few years before I had started off buying one copy for my eldest son and by the time this last book was published I bought one each for them and one for me. I suspect that come the day they will buy them for children of their own.
Harry Potter is a fairy story for our times. One where good bravely and continually confronts evil and where every character seems real. We all feel we know them and we care about what happens to them.
We have all loved the films as well heading to the cinema as soon as they have been released and then dutifully buying them when they were released on DVD.
I remember when the first one came out we staged a special screening in the front room and drew up invitations for each of the children.
We then drew the curtains, dimmed the lights and settled down.
So when the chance came for my daughter of 13 and son of 15 to spend an afternoon at the Harry Potter Warner brothers studio tour we leapt at it.
Here was an opportunity to get a genuine look behind the scenes, to step inside the Great Hall, peer into Dumbledore's office, the Weasley's kitchen and to walk down Diagon Alley. It was all very familiar but for the first time it was all in front of us for real.
For more than four hours we wandered around in open-mouthed wonder, delighted to be following in Harry's footsteps..
Somehow it did not matter that the secrets behind the illusions were being revealed.
We knew we were being tricked but you accept that as part of the deal.
Perhaps it was inevitable then that after arriving home the following day and looking out on our rainswept street, that with a little imagination could pass for Privet Drive, I turned to our collection of Harry Potter films.
A few minutes later that enchanting music had begun and all three of us were back under the spell of Hogwarts.