Oh, London, how I have missed you. With your gaps to be minded, Charings to cross, and double-decker buses speeding by the circus of Piccadilly; Leicester Square, where I saw the third Harry Potter film beneath two towering Dementor hands; and Trafalgar Square, where I spent hours inside the National Gallery discovering pieces of art that truly moved me. I’ve spent, over the course of three visits, roughly two weeks within your bounds. You, with your two-thousand-plus-year history, could not have noticed me. But I noticed you.
My last visit to you was nearly eight years ago. I went there to celebrate an ending. The final Harry Potter book was published, and I received it at midnight, the same moment as millions of others across the globe. I read the book on the floor of one of your many hotels, and once it was all over, I walked for hours down your narrow streets, past Big Ben and Parliament, in an attempt to figure out what to do next.
The answer was to stay. Not in London, of course, but within the borders of the friendly and comfortable group of people with whom my association had brought me there, and on more than one occasion. The first time, in 2004, was to explore your famous places that inspired J.K. Rowling to write those same books about the boy wizard: Oxford, York, Scarborough, Northamptonshire. I rode on the Hogwarts Express train itself and spent several days running around in Gryffindor robes in public, for the first time, and I loved it. My second visit was not Potter-related but part of a greater journey through Europe. And though I’ve since tasted fondue on a riverboat in Lucerne, Switzerland, and ridden a gondola through the murky channels of Venice, my mind still journeys to the fanciful sprees of adventure I’ve had in England, the place that was so like my own country and yet so very much not.
It is true, London, that you will always be linked in my mind to Harry Potter. His books were the first in which I read about you, even if Harry himself spends limited time there. The culture, the history, is truly humanity’s culture and history – the country from which my forefathers came, and so on and such forth – but more directly after reading the books my infatuation with your people grew greatly. Your people adapted the films from the books and made eight highly memorable works of art in them. Your royalty, sirs and dames, starred in those movies as well as scores of children my own age… gaining international stardom and recognition all while being part of your film industry.
Nice talking with you, London. Now I’ll address my fellow Harry Potter fans:
The films wrapped up more recently than the books, and ever since the film studio was converted into a walkable museum tour, I have been fighting to contain my enthusiasm to visit. I’ve been waiting to go, waiting for the reason, the special occasion, to turn my fourth trip to London into another special Harry Potter adventure. And MuggleNet, for the third time, has not failed to deliver for me such a reason.
Expo Patronum is MuggleNet’s one-day Harry Potter tribute. On April 18 of this year, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., over a dozen special guests, among them actors Warwick Davis, Harry Melling, Chris Rankin, Luke Youngblood, Jon Campling, and Nick Moran, are talking Potter for an eight-hour stretch in the suave ExCel Centre London Suite. The wonderfully exuberant actress Jessie Cave will be there, as well as the remarkable Afshan Azad, Anna Shaffer, and Georgina Leonidas. Vocal wonder Nick Shirm, the charismatic Robbie Jarvis, and the always-reading, always-tweeting Rohan Gotobed add their experiences to the already bustling list of people who came into the Potter films from all directions. And that list only makes up the cast talent who will be present at this amazing expo, telling their tales.
On this one day, guests of the expo (myself included) will be present for a richer gathering of Harry Potter talent, both cast and crew, than any that has existed since the days of filming. And this day, unlike those days on set, is public. The actual expo space on this day will feature industry members both film and otherwise, whose talents actually made the adaptations possible and who continue to serve the Potter community worldwide. Furthermore, J.K. Rowling’s own charity, Lumos, is the sole charitable beneficiary of Expo Patronum. SO MANY people have said YES to Expo Patronum, and I am very proud to say that I am one of them. So. Have you?
If you’ve ever fallen in love with the idea of the wizarding world or thought of partaking in a magical experience in England, if you’ve ever worn your Harry Potter robes out in public, if you’ve ever stared down that Death Eater while he searches the train for Harry Potter while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 or wanted to know if that Scabior guy secretly smelled good, if you’ve ever wondered what the intelligent, remarkable people who were cast as Dudley Dursley, Katie Bell, Percy Weasley, 11-year-old Sirius Black, 15-year-old James Potter, Zacharias Smith, Griphook and Flitwick, Romilda Vane, and Padma Patil did after the lights went off and the call sheets stopped coming, there is simply no better forum to find out than this limited-capacity event, in person, at the ExCel expo center in London on April 18.
Everything you need to know about Expo Patronum is clearly detailed on its website. There are three tiers of registration, all extremely affordable. The creative talent who have all agreed to be here and the MuggleNet team who developed the event both believe in the same thing that I do: Harry Potter (as world-changing and life-changing for everyone who encounters it as it is) forever.