The following entry was written by Giselle on May 14, 2012, in honor of our trip to the Holy Land, a.k.a. the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London.
Happy reminiscing, girls! Let’s go back!!!
Remember me? Remember us? Yep, we’re still here.
This link compelled me to blog today: A Message To Everyone Out There Who Thinks They Aren’t Beautiful In Pictures
I have one too many friends who are like this. Yes, I’m talking to you and you and you and you! Stop it! You ARE beautiful. I love taking photos and nothing disappoints me more than when someone looks at a photo that I took of them and they ask me to delete it because they think they don’t look pretty. And it’s only the women! Why?! I blame the unrealistic ideals of what it means to be beautiful. I’ve yet to hear any of my guy friends ask me to delete anything. I must admit, I’ve done it too. I mean, I comment about how fat and unflattering I look in a photo and it takes a huge effort for me to not kindly ask them to delete it. I may have, in the past, but no more.
God created me the way I am and I should be proud of what I look like. To say anything derogatory about myself would just be like saying, “Your work is ugly, God.”
So enough of the negativity. We are all beautiful!
In other news, this happened and I missed it. Boo!
I’m waiting for Frankie to blog about the our latest Harry Potter event. Did you hear about that? We probably should have promoted it here. Sorry about that. 😦
I’m not really sure what happened to Abbey. I thinks she’s lost somewhere in the Floo Network or maybe, just maybe, she’s taken over The Burrow – you know, being domesticated and all. Peace, Bubbles! :p
As for me, I’m still enjoying being in a singing group. Last Sunday, we sang for a fund-raising event at Manly. We sang alright, I guess. Or maybe we’re too hard on ourselves, I don’t know. All I can say is that Rhea’s voice is AMAZING! What a singer! 🙂
Here’s a recording of one of our last practices before the actual performance. Yes, ako yung mali ang pasok so we had to repeat. *hides*
We needed to come up with a group name and so we went with Flip Tones (my silly suggestion) but since we’re not sold on that name, it ain’t sticking. There is a front-runner but I’ll keep it a secret first. We have to vote on a group name!
Oh, I almost forgot! A couple of weeks ago, we saw Pink. What a performer! If you get the chance, you should go and see her live.
May 10 used to be an uneventful, nondescript date. That is, until May 10 of 2012.
Though I am still on a reminiscing mood, I am not one to waste words. So I figured instead of composing a new blog entry to commemorate this date, it’s better to just review a couple of blog posts Giselle and I wrote in honor of May 10, 2012.
Written by Giselle four days after the fact: The Secrets Have Been Revealed.
Penned by yours truly a month after the fact: Remembering Hogwarts.
We love Harry Potter! We love Pinoy Harry Potter. This is our common bond.
PHP is keeping the magic alive through activities that put into action the values we learned from the Harry Potter books—kindness, loyalty, tolerance, compassion.
So on November 10, we will be at the Hospicio de San Jose for Magic Works 2: Christmas in November. If you are so inclined, you made get in touch with us if you have donations or if you would like to help out on the day.
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience, A Parody by Dan and Jeff
September 1, 2012, 230 pm performance
So, was Potted Potter, the theatrical extravaganza for serious Potterheads, the much ballyhooed, highly anticipated act for hardcore Potter fans, all that it’s cracked up to be?
Let’s put it this way: if we use my facial muscles as the gauge for assessing the show’s fabulous, hilarious success, I would say, and without batting my wand, yes!
My muscles (both facial and stomach) were put to the test from laughing too hard, and laughing too much.
Oh it’s not your usual play broken into several acts. Well, if you consider each book in the septology as an act, then okay, that can serve as some kind of structure for the entire show. It’s really more of “the best of Harry Potter—-RETOLD!” and not in a straightforward manner even. The retelling, naturally, was chronological as per the narrative in the books, but there were several interludes in between “acts”, spiels that really had no bearing on the narrative they were trying to tell the audience, but necessary given the demands of comedy.
Yes, it was more a stand-up comedy than your regular play (Aristotelian structure be damned). And what a stand-up show it was!
You only have two actors (Jesse Briton and Gary Trainor) onstage for the entire duration of the show (70 minutes, so that’s give or take 10 minutes per book) giving life to a whole lot of HP characters we are all familiar with, to wit, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley (and the rest of the ginger family, oh yes!), Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Lord Voldemort, Rubeus Hagrid, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Draco Malfoy, and an assortment of magical creatures like Dobby the House-elf, the Basilisk (oh ha, ha, ha. Look, a green stuffed snake for a serpent!), the Hungarian Horntail (“it breathes fire!!!—-Jess), and Nagini (a red stuffed snake this time to accompany the Dark Lord).
It was a laugh-a-minute production, I swear. No, scratch that. It was more like laugh-every-15-seconds! Production-wise, there was not much to gawk at. The stage only had a coffin (no functional purpose in the narrative, save for its initial comic effect resulting from its lack of HP connection), the Forbidden Forest (which, according to Gary looked a lot like Boracay), and as centerpiece, the wardrobe from Narnia (open it and you have a ready white screen for the projected images), but no matter. You get your money’s worth not from the props but from the actors. They are the props. They make the show work. And work well, it did.
Similar to most shows and concerts that go on the road, there was an attempt to localize the humor. I’ve already mentioned the Boracay quip, yes. There was also a line from Jesse about him going all emo and will just listen to the Eraserheads as he went behind the wardrobe to change his props. There was a mention of Ateneo as well that got some strange jeers from the audience. I didn’t really catch what it was so I let it go.
There were also some remnants of British humor, I guess, that didn’t translate well with the audience. The occasional un-PC (politically correct) remarks of Hagrid didn’t really hit a homerun, as I’m sure it did back in the U.K. Hagrid was presented as a Scottish oaf for the most part, but it was only the Shrek mention and Hagrid’s “donkeh” retort that worked with the audience effectively. I’m guessing the age-old tension between the English and the Scottish would’ve played a significant contribution reaction-wise to the characterization, but since Filipinos are not too well-invested with the tension, the humor just sort of passed us by.
Another humor that sort of fell flat was Gary’s constant dig at teachers. I think he mentioned two teacher jokes, and the 2nd time he did, a significant part of the audience made their sentiment known with the usual exclamation of disapproval (a really polite boo, if you can call it that). Gary himself replied with, “I totally misjudged that” (referring to his joke) to which Jesse said, “I guess teachers are admired here in Manila.”
That aside, I enjoyed the whole performance. The Quidditch match among the audience members was probably the highlight of the entire show. It’s just too bad one of the volunteers Jesse picked (some girl wearing a Gryffindor robe) was just too dull, too boring for words. I mean, gosh, her team won the match and when Jesse asked her what prize she wanted all she did was shrug her shoulders. When Jesse asked her if she wanted a chocolate frog, she shrugged her little shoulders yet again. I tell you, if that person had been my student, I would’ve disowned her. If she were a member of Hogwarts Philippines, I would’ve sent her to Mr. Filch for detention. She was that borrrrring. To spite her, Jesse went to the audience and gave the chocolate frog to the boring girl’s little cousin. “No prize for you!” cried Jesse.
I must say the way they handled the narration was just how I would’ve wanted it done. Meaning, they really were able to capture what each book is about. It didn’t matter that a lot of narrative material was scrapped. They were still able to pick out the juiciest parts per book. Sorcerer’s Stone highlighted its nature as the maiden novel, hence, lots of introductory characters, plus yes, the battle for the Stone. Chamber of Secrets was all about Dobby and the Basilisk. In Prisoner of Azkaban (they actually said it’s the book that is arguably the most admired and well written of the series) they actually opted for a lecture! Complete with a Powerpoint presentation about Rowling’s sleight of hand, as a master deceiver with the way she handles both plot and character (I do this lecture in Muggle school, too). Goblet of Fire was all about the Three Tasks (and Quidditch!) and the Dark Lord’s Resurrection. Order of the Phoenix highlighted what we all already knew even before we’ve read the blasted book, “one of you shall live, one of you shall die!” (repeat until you die; the redundancy underscores the book’s unnecessary heft) Half-Blood Prince was all about Dumbledore’s death and Snape’s true character (“I’m a bad guy!. . . .or am I?”). Finally, Deathly Hallows was all about camping and deaths, split in two (hahahaha!). They ended by filking my most favorite videoke song (Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Surive”) complete with a disco ball, and I must say there is no other way to end the show than with that one.
In all, every Muggle centavo spent was worth it. I’m certain even non-HP fans would enjoy this show, if only for the frenetic energy of the actors and the witty dialogue courtesy of the writers.
Would I watch it again in some other setting, in some other time? You can bet your Nimbus vacuum cleaner on it.
Inspired by this post over at the Hogwarts Professor’s site.
When you buy tons of Harry Potter-related merchandise (both official and unofficial) and don’t feel guilty about it. Why not? Because you are a hard-working member of the labor force and you deserve the reward, geddemit.
When you have all 7 books in the traditional format because you love the smell of paper, Kindle be damned.
When you own the Harry Potter books in languages you don’t even understand (ehem).
When you have digital downloads of all 7 books as a back up, on top of your 7 hard bound copies.
When you have attended at least one Harry Potter event dressed up as your favorite HP character, tropical temperature notwithstanding.
When you’ve taken public transport (LRT/MRT, jeepney, bus, London subway) dressed as your favorite HP character to go to that Harry Potter event (I have. Many times).
You dress up as Fleur Delacour in an HP event and when Muggles ask you which school you go to you immediately reply with, “Beauxbatons Academy, monsieur!” Bonus point: when foreigners ask “do they speak French in the Philipines?” upon seeing you in your Fleur uniform.
You feel like Madeline the French schoolgirl everytime you wear that Fleur get up. Bonus point: you can recite “we love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other” maxim of that French school girl with matching French accent. While wearing Fleur’s uniform.
You don’t mind the whole gender-bending cosplay as long as you can dress up as the Potions Master.
You’ve done the whole Harry Potter pilgrimage, or at least planning to do it in the very near future.
You know how to fold your arms like the Potions Master. Complete with sneer.
You. Speak. Like. Alan. Rickman.
You don’t mind being called a witch by strangers (them carrying pitchforks is a different story, though).
You’ve actually played Quidditch in real life (I was a Keeper, yes).
You wish the local liquor shop would sell Firewhiskey.
You’ve published at least one essay about Harry Potter.
You host a Muggle event and you can’t help but insert one or two Harry Potter-related words/situations in your spiel.
You know who the Hogwarts Professor is.
You’ve shaken hands with the Hogwarts Professor.
You know what happened to Steve Vander Ark, probably have even met him in person, and you now shake your head with everything that has happened post-lawsuit (tsk, tsk, tsk).
You understand Harry Potter vis-à-vis Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth.
You get the whole Time-Travel concept in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban. I mean really, REALLY get it (hello, tenseless view of time!).
You know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has many loopholes but you can only accept this critique from a fellow HP fan and will fiercely argue with a non-fan if it comes to that.
You secretly laugh when “fans” call Harry’s ex girlfriend as “Cho Chan” (duh).
You snicker when “fans” have only seen all 8 film adaptations but have never read any of the books (boo! *snicker, snicker*).
You know given the HP timeline that the Other Minister was most likely John Major, but you actually imagined Tony Blair for the post.
You actually know who John Major and Tony Blair are.
You understand why Harry Potter shouldn’t fall under the Children’s literature category given what has happened in the later books, but you cringe at the idea of putting it under YA literature, given the current YA template.
You know wizards rule and werewolves drool anytime. All the time.
You are a member of a non-profit, non-governmental organization that is devoted to spreading the love for Harry Potter (and promoting passion for reading in general).
I’m sure there’s more but as it is a Sunday, my brain’s not working in full capacity. Add your ideas into the cauldron, my dear reader.
As a precocious little child, I only ever wanted to become one of three things: a scientist, an astronaut, or a nun. Yep, you read that right. I wanted to don the habit. I know my divulging this information merits a separate entry so I’ll just leave that for later. I was the family’s Little Miss Sunshine well before that movie came out. Obviously, I don’t recall much of my earlier years but from what I gather, I kind of was a smart-ass – for a kid, that is. First grandchild and youngest in the family (at the time), I was showered with a lot of attention but I was never a spoiled brat. My mom made sure of that.
One thing was for sure, I was never going into music or become a writer. You see, I come from a family of musicians and writers. I remember my mom telling me many years ago, “Gutom yan.” Not that I was going to be a musician or writer anyway. I was going to carve my own path and be the only hard-core nerd in the family. (Up to this day, I still am.) I remember many afternoons in front of the TV watching a lot of David Attenborough shows and that’s probably why, at seven years old, I decided I was going to be a scientist. I’m sure I wrote down in one or two slum books in primary school that I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. Believe me, that was all peer pressure! Although at one point, I wanted to be President of the Philippines. I was 10 years old.
I would often daydream about becoming an astronaut until that one road trip to La Union in the 1980s when I discovered I had motion sickness. It’s gotten better since then but even now, when I’m in a moving vehicle, I can’t look down or up or read a book. I can’t play any video games and I must always have the window seat. On planes, I try to drug myself so that I’ll just fall asleep during the flight. How I managed to survive that 22-hour flight from Sydney to London, I can only attribute to drugs and excitement.
Then I grew up. I learned that money didn’t grow on trees and that if I wanted to live a happy, comfortable life, I had to get a real job. Maybe I was going to have to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. No, I couldn’t give up the dream of being a scientist and so I took up Geology. In between all of this, I also learned about love and then my next big “growing up” plan was to become a wife and mother. I’d be married to someone rich and wonderful, of course. My very own Prince Charming, just like in all those fairy tales I read as a child. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the happily-ever-after. My loves only led to devastating heartbreak and after two failed relationships, I’ve pretty much given up on love. I will, however, secretly remain a hopeless romantic.
To me, growing up means accepting one’s lot in life and making the most of it. It means never suppressing the child-like quality each of us had when we were little kids. It means knowing one’s limitations and playing to one’s strengths and ensuring we never hurt others or belittle ourselves. Growing up also means never letting go of childhood dreams, no matter how silly they may sound. You know, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be able to travel the world and yet, I’m doing that now! I truly believe that if we stopped dreaming, we would stop growing.
Occasionally, I encounter individuals who question my life choices and make tactless comments like, “You should be married by now,” or “Why don’t you buy a house? You should be investing in something for your future.” Maybe the worst one was when someone said, “You should really rev up your career. You’re not getting any younger.” To them I say, well excuse me for living the life I chose. But then it dawns on me that I’m actually much happier than they are. I’m not in the rat-race, trying to climb the corporate ladder and yet, I am able to indulge in life’s little pleasures nonetheless. I sure as hell am not missing out on screaming kids and unreliable spouses. Can you tell I really don’t appreciate other people imposing their ideas of success on me?
I don’t want to end on a sour note so even if this next photo is totally unrelated to my entry, I’ll post it anyway. Like I said, I do most things my way. 😉
The other day, a friend posted this on Facebook: I think maturity is attained when one no longer feels the need to prove anything to anyone. If I were to be truly honest with myself, I can confidently say that I’ve sufficiently matured, so much so that I’ve truly grown up. But there’s always room for improvement so here’s to dreaming and growing up and living a happy, contented life, no matter how we all choose to live it.
I’m afraid to start writing. Writing demands remembering. And once you’ve remembered everything, the forgetting is not far behind.
How do I even begin to forget?
I mean, just trying to recall everything that happened that day, that most amazing, special day, is too much, too overwhelming for me even now, 3 days and a month later.
I’m writing about the Great Warner Brothers Studio Tour last May 10, of course. Or at least trying to write about it.
Disclaimer: if you plan on visiting the Studio Tour soon and you don’t want to be spoiled, do not continue reading this blog entry, for I assure you, there will be spoilers.
Now if you’re the type who doesn’t mind spoilers, like some people who actually requested me to write about it in the hopes of vicariously living through the magical experience via my own eyes and words, then read on.
It was the proverbial Holy Grail for us three witches. It was the Elixir. The Lost Ark. The anti-matter. It was the pot of gold. The Triwizard Cup. The One Ring. The mothership.
It was the stuff our magical dreams were made off. We planned it. We dreamt it. We prepared for it. And then May 10 came. Finally, reality was right in front of us.
Was it everything I fantasized it would be?
Let me count the ways as to why it was not.
The day started off quite early. We had to be up and ready by 730 am since we had to take the subway and the national rail for Watford Junction. At WJ, we had to wait for the bus that will ultimately take us (for 2 pounds, return ticket) to the studio lot. The schedule that we booked was for 11 am, but lo, we arrived at the studio well before 10 am (we were with the first batch from the bus station).
No worries. We had enough time to chill and have our second breakfast, thanks to the Studio Café at the venue. We had scones with clotted cream and coffee (yes, there’s a Starbucks corner inside the café). We took photos of the general vicinity, yes. We checked out the WB shop, of course. Good thing we had the foresight not to buy anything before the actual tour started. If we hadn’t, then we would’ve burdened ourselves with shopping bags all throughout the tour which lasted practically the entire day. There will be enough time for shopping later.
Finally, 11 am came. We queued up and readied our cameras, our digital guides (we had to pay extra for this Tom Felton digital guide, yes), and ourselves for the experience that was about to start.
We went in by batch (according to the time slot that we booked prior to the actual day of our visit). I’m guessing there were about 60 of us that were herded inside this dark room filled with screens on the wall. Inside the room there’s a lady telling you bits of things to expect, what you can and cannot do inside (you may take photos anywhere EXCEPT while inside the mini-theatre and at the Quidditch green room), and other things. Then a short video begins, with David Heyman and other production people talking about the backstory of the entire Harry Potter film series.
Imagine us just standing there, in the dark, taking it all in. The excitement was slowly rising I tell you.
And then we were asked to proceed inside the belly of the whale, i.e., the mini-theatre. We went for the front row seats, of course! It was a short film with Dan, Rupert and Emma briefing the audience about what to expect inside, at the very studio where they practically grew up as actors and as individuals. Dan’s parting shot was, “you may have to change the way you think about Quidditch.” In all it was over after about 5 mins, maybe even less.
And then, the screen went dark.
And then, the screen went up. . . and up. . and up. . . revealing. . .
The Door. The Door of the Great Hall.
There was this almost inaudible gasp all around. I remember exchanging a meaningful look with Giselle. We were both teary-eyed already. It was just—–oh I can’t think of a word to describe the moment.
I’m finally home.
The tour coordinator asked for a volunteer from the audience. I think I was channeling Hermione that moment for my hand went up the air even before she could finish her sentence. She thanked me for volunteering, thanked me for coming in costume, and asked for my name and I said “it’s Frances. . . ah no, it’s Professor Snape.”
The task was to open the Great Hall door with her.
Again, no words.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank heavens for Giselle and her sly camera work, she was able to record the moment. I guess a video clip is worth ten times more than a thousand words.
Click here to see the video of the grand entrance.
And so we were finally inside the Great Hall, with John Williams’ music playing in the background.
You see the huge fireplace. You see the many flambeaux designed with the four House animals up in the air. You see the Faculty table right up there at the far end of the room.
It was really like walking the path taken by all Hogwarts students. It felt like we were about to be sorted by Professor McGonagall.
Once we’ve all had our fill of the Great Hall, we proceeded with the rest of the pack to the door on our left side where we see photos of all the directors who helmed all the HP films—Columbus, Cuaron, Newell and Yates. Thanks to their individual and collective visions, Harry became all the more real to us via celluloid.
Now this was the point, the very spot where the madness would begin. Mad not because the whole thing was disorganized, heavens no. It’s probably one of the most organized places on the planet (maybe third only to the White House and the Buckingham Palace). It was madness because as a fan, there were too many things to gawk at and scrutinize. Your eyes will water just by looking at everything. Your neck will ache from too much twisting and straining. Your knees will buckle from too much walking around and standing still and then walking around some more. Your stomach will make all these grumbling sounds because it’s already way past your lunch time and you’re still inside this cavernous gallery with nothing to eat save for your trusty, fruity Mentos. Your fingers will go numb trying to press every possible button on your digital guide, for you fear you might miss a detail or two (did Steve Kloves say “the” or was it “an”? Even mundane things like that, oh yes). Your camera will heat up from too much usage, and you will be filled with terror at the possibility of going cam-ando, that is, diving in with a low-batt camera amidst a life-changing event.
It was beginning to overwhelm us, all the sights and the sounds and the desire to not miss anything so we decided to just take a break in front of Hagrid’s Hut, finished listening to the digital guide (btw, it’s not a glorified map of the venue, no. It’s like watching an extended version of the special features you never saw on your DVD or Blu-ray, and so much better because Tom Felton is actually talking to you as if he’s just there in front of you, or maybe right next to you, whispering in your ear), and then proceeded with the tour, this time mentally guided by the insights courtesy of the digital guide.
Oh the props. Oh the costumes. Oh the wigs and make-up. Oh the wands, the broomsticks, the Horcruxes and the Hallows.
I ask you again. How do you even begin talking about these magical things?
People of all ages and sizes were everywhere, taking photos of the props, and of themselves either in front of, behind, and beside every possible item. Some of the items are well-known and very film-visible like the Horcruxes, while some like the House Point Counter and Dumbledore’s amazingly huge telescope complete with comfy swivel chair were rarely seen onscreen yet still mind-blowing to look at. Just thinking about the creativity and the inspiration and the skill involved in making all these items is now giving me a headache and some heart palpitations on the side.
I can probably try to enumerate every little thing I’ve seen inside that gallery but I won’t even dare. It wouldn’t be right. It was an experience after all, not some diorama to probe. It was truly a case of having to be there, taking it all in. Writing about it now is probably already considered sacrilegious, I don’t know. How do you dare write about an experience?
The thing with the whole set-up is this: once you’ve had your fill of a given area, then you go enter a new set. But make sure you’ve really had your fill. You can’t go in and out. Once you’re inside a particular area, say the Props hall, you can’t just turn and go back to the previous area, say the Great Hall. Once you’re done with everything inside the first main hall, why not proceed to the green room and try flying a Ford Anglia? Or how about a lesson in flying your very own broomstick?
I’m telling you, I was so game to try everything I didn’t mind if I looked silly flying the Firebolt while personifying Professor Snape at the same time. I mean come on, it was most likely a once in a lifetime experience. Self-consciousness be damned, I am going to try my hand at every possible thing inside this lot.
And I did, funny face and all.
Once we were all done inside, it was time for us to see the skies. We’ve been cooped up inside the studio for four hours now we didn’t even know it started raining. See the next stop was the outdoor lot where you will see the Knight Bus, the Riddle gravestone, #4 Privet Drive, Godric’s Hollow, the Hogwarts bridge, and the huge chess pieces from the first film installment. Since it was already pouring by the time we got out, we fancied a short break and figured it was time for us to taste the Butterbeer.
Oh the Butterbeer.
BEST. DRINK. EVER.
It was sweet, but not sickening. It was cold, but not bitingly harsh. It was foamy and frothy, and heavenly and magical and all the good things you have ever experienced in your life, mixed by Hogwarts’ elves most likely. A glass will cost you £2.95 but it’s a small price to pay for a glass of comfort and happiness.
After the Butterbeer break, we then had our photos taken at the great outdoors, rain be damned. A little bit of rain is nothing to a hardcore HP fan, am I right or am I right?
And then we found ourselves at the creature shop where we got to see Aragog, and the Mandrake, and Fawkes, and Dobby, and Hedwig and the rest of the magical creatures ad nauseam. Giselle tried to overcome her fear of spiders by having her photo taken near Aragog. I’m not sure if it worked, though.
Dummies of actors were carefully arranged everywhere. Masks and more masks. Hey there’s the Monster Book of Monsters. Careful, it bites. There’s baby-mort, too. Push a button and you’ll see it move. Very creepy. Push the button again! And again! And again! Oh this is so much fun!
Hey, there’s Diagon Alley! Every shop mentioned in the books and shown in the films is here, amazingly built to scale. There’s Ollivander’s. There’s Flourish and Blotts. There’s Gringotts for your banking needs. The Daily Prophet office for the latest news. Eeylops Emporium to your right. Quidditch Quality Supplies stands next to it. And there at the far end, you see the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
There’s also this huge hall filled with artworks. It’s just white walls everywhere filled with drawings and concept art and paintings. Every floor plan of Hogwarts is there for you to see. Every buttress of the castle lovingly imagined by the artists is there for you to adore. And the paintings, my dear Godric. The paintings! I loved it all.
At this point I must take a pause. The experience, I know, no, I recall, is about to reach its end. It is always difficult to write about the end, isn’t it? Especially if you know that it is the end. No surprises anymore. Just the memories.
A few steps before entering the last room of the entire studio, you will hear it. Cue: Harry in Winter track from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by Patrick Doyle.
And then you will see it. The pièce-de-résistance.
It was truly the best piece of prop inside the studio. What showpiece. Such artistry.
I can’t even begin to tell you how hard I tried to be cool and to stay composed during this moment. Just the fact that I knew right then that I was at the very last room of this tour, and that I was there next to the Hogwarts castle, with Doyle’s soulful music playing in the background. . . . Part of me wanted to clap and whoop at the brilliance of it all. The people behind this whole thing really know how to do it, how to conceptualize and how to stir up the emotions. And a huge part of me just wanted to sit down and cry.
Just so you know, I didn’t clap nor whooped.
I did find a seat and sat down.
And actually cried.
Just looking at the castle, my school. . . our school. . . it was the very definition of magnificence.
Just sitting there, and taking it all in was the icing on the proverbial cake of the Great UK Adventure. I knew then that we’ve yet to set foot in Scotland. We’ve yet to attend the conference. We’ve yet to see Edinburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle and all the other great landmarks UK has to offer.
I didn’t care. At that moment, there was only one castle that mattered. And I was sitting right in front of it.
It may sound trite, but it was magical.
Going back to my initial question: was it everything I fantasized it would be? Again, the answer is no.
For right there, on Holy Ground, I realized that reality is so much better than the fantasy.
I didn’t want to leave my spot. I didn’t want to go back to London, back to King’s Cross, back to our little hotel. I wanted to stay right there. I wanted to be part of the bigature castle. I wanted to live there, amidst all the props and the costumes and all the things we’ve experienced before with the films. Everything there reminded me of the grand story we’ve all read before, from the pages of the books as imagined and written by JKRowling. I wanted to be part of all that.
Then again, as all things must end, we had to leave.
Oh sure, there’s the shop where every conceivable candy and chocolates are being sold. Every wand, every costume, every prop replica you can think of, yes, it’s all there. I did well with my finances given the crazy shopping opportunity, I think. I only bought for myself a wand (McGonagall’s, huzzah!), an Azkaban shirt, a pair of Gryffindor Quidditch gloves, a box of Peppermint Toads, a bag of Fizzing Whizbees, a spanking Marauder’s Map, a few keychains, and a couple of official photos taken inside the green room. I was angling for a hoodie but they didn’t have one in my size for the design I wanted.
Oh, look at the time. We’re practically three of the last people still inside the studio lot. It’s nearing 5 pm, we’re a long way from central London where home currently is, we haven’t had lunch, and we’re still dragging our feet ever so slowly, as if dreading the act of leaving.
While on the bus going back to the railway station, I tried to bury the whole day event. I didn’t want to touch it. I didn’t want to mess with it. I just wanted to preserve it in my mind. So there I was, minding my own, when Gissy said something that shook me to my foundation. She said, “my mom will ask me how it was and I will tell her I wouldn’t have wanted to go here with anyone but you two.”
For a moment that contained an eternity (thank you, JK), I just sat there, looking at this witch and I literally wanted to slap her. You know that thing you feel in your throat, coupled with a slight stinging in your eyes, and you find yourself trying so hard to maintain your composure in public kind of scenario? Yep, I was smarting through that, courtesy of Giselle. I couldn’t even say thank you, or any equally charming statement in return. I may have said, “stop it” but I’m not sure.
I knew what she meant. And I’m sure she knew what I was going through at that moment as well, screwed up face and all (not sure if she knew about the desire to slap, though).
The thing is, the tour may have ended, but the experience lives on. Harry died in the books once before. Harry died a second time in the movie adaptation. But Harry always finds a way to come back to me, to us, every time we have a great need for him.
The friendships that we found and have made courtesy of Harry and JKR stand as testament to the magic that lives on. For that alone, I am forever thankful to Ms. Rowling.
As for Harry, he lives evermore.
He will forever be our hero. He will never leave us.
The same way we will never leave him. We have his back.
I’m sure some of you may be wondering why none of us have blogged about our Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour knowing how excited we were about going to Leavesden. We even had a countdown timer on the lower left-hand side of our blog. The truth is, it’s difficult do put down into words how we each felt about the experience. It was overwhelming, in a good way.
Personally, I don’t even want to post all my photos. I know it sounds selfish but for the Harry Potter fans out there, you will thank me for it later. Can someone say SPOILER? And now for the real selfish reason why I don’t want to blog about it. The trip was something so personal and so close to my heart that I want to keep it all to myself. Blogging about it would somehow diminish how special and sacred the entire day was for me.
When Frankie, Abbey, and I were on the bus back to the train station, we had talked about how or if we were even going to write about our May 10 experience. Frankie reckons she’d write a really long post; Abbey thinks she won’t; and I think I’d write too little. Words would never be enough.
I suppose all I can tell you was that I cried four times during our entire stay at the Leavesden studio. Yes, four times. This deluge of emotions came from two things and two things alone. First, that I was actually here immersed in the set and the studios and the props where they made the movies – where Rupert, Dan, Emma practically grew up! As Abbey’s brother said, this was like a pilgrimage, a journey to our Harry Potter Mecca. As you will see, we came in our Harry Potter attire. (I don’t like saying costume anymore because my robes have become such a part of my wardrobe.) Second – and this reason makes my eyes water every time – is that I could never have asked for the two perfect witches to enjoy it with. To think that we got to do this together is just mind-blowing and I wouldn’t have wanted to go here with anyone but Abbey and Frankie.
Okay, enough of the drama. On to some more photos.
Our tour schedule was at 11AM but true to form, we were on the first bus to the studio at 9.20AM. We hung around the WB shop to case the joint and see what we could buy and pine for the ones we either couldn’t afford or were too heavy to pack into our suitcases. It was good that we were allowed to take photos in the shop too.
Finally, 11AM came and we lined up and shortly left the Muggle world behind. We emerged five hours later. 😉
What an awesome day indeed! As promised, I didn’t post all my photos both for selfish and unselfish reasons. On the way back to King’s Cross, I said a little prayer of thanks that even through the dreariness of Muggle life, there is still (Harry Potter) magic in this world.