To coin a phrase from a former Princess, there are three people in my marriage. Me, my lovely wife, and a fictional schoolboy wizard with a lightning bolt scar on his head. A Mr Harry James Potter. I even know his middle name. He is a constant presence in my home, a menacing bespectacled spectre in my day to day life. When it comes to activities in the bedroom, the wizard in question doesn't get involved, but that may just be a matter of time. For I am married to a Harry Potter obsessive, and here is my tale of woe.
I knew fairly early on in the relationship that I'd be sharing my life with the aforementioned sorcerer after I realised more often than not if I walked into a room with a television, the screen would be showing one of the Harry Potter films. This happened too many times to be mere coincidence. "How many times have you seen this one?" I would enquire politely. "Oh only once, maybe twice I think," would come the innocent reply, coupled with a smile. This smile hid a LIE.
For my other half has watched the eight Harry Potter movies over and over and over and over and over again. She knows every line and every scene and knows exactly what to Expecto, and yet STILL she bursts into tears when that massive-eared Dobby the Elf gets stabbed to death on a beach. If I'm out of the house all day, I will open the front door on my return to be greeted by that all too familiar theme tune. Daa daa da da da da DAAA DAAA. Up until a few years ago I knew she was just watching the movies, but then came the video games. And not just Harry Potter video games, but Harry Potter video games where you are made of LEGO.
She would spend whole days battling build-a-brick Voldemorts, before maybe watching one of the films, and then going to bed with one of the books. "Don't you get bored of Harry Potter?" I would ask in desperation for the fourth time that week. "Oh you Muggles..." she would reply with a shake of the head and a slightly sinister laugh.
I tried to get involved. On one occasion over the space of three whole days, I sat with her and watched all eight films back to back. Which I suppose would be fine, were it not for my major problem with Harry Potter. The obsession with spiders. Those horrible eight-legged arachnotwats are everywhere in these bloody films, and they're not just house spiders, they're as-big-as-houses-spiders. The second film has about 100,000 of them attacking a car. I was nearly sick.
I suppose my more twisted side thought a Harry Potter obsession could be made a little more enticing if it was a bit sexy. I mean, Emma Watson is very attractive these days, and she's 20-odd now so it's fine, and even a Hogwarts uniform could be made alluring on a grown-up with a pair of stockings. But the problem is once you've watched Hermione struggle to make it to a potions lesson aged nine and a half and then have an argument with a ginger boy about a cat, you have absolutely no desire to see your wife dressed up like her.
I hoped that the arrival of our baby late last year would put a stop to the Harry Potter conundrum. Nope. Almost as soon as she (for she is a girl and therefore cannot be dressed up as Harry Potter) popped into the world, my other half was vehemently looking forward to Halloween, so she could dress the baby up as Harry Potter. "Imagine her with a little lightning bolt on her head and some glasses!"..."But she's a girl!"..."I don't care! SHE CAN STILL BE HARRY POTTER," I would hear, backing out of the room terrified.
Then they opened up the Warner Brother's Harry Potter studio tour in Watford. A place where you can helpfully take Harry Potter obsessives so that they can have films they already think are real made even more real. Which is just what they need. But we didn't stop there. Of course not.
Because in Florida, they have something called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter", where there is an actual size replica of Hogwarts school. To my wife, who wakes daily expecting a Barn Owl to deliver her a letter confirming her attendance for the next term at that very same fictional school, this is like Mecca. And the next thing I knew we'd flown 4,000 miles to drink 'Butterbeer' (?) in 85 degree sunshine while some obese Americans said things like "Hunny here's the store where he gets his waaaand."
They've stopped making the movies now of course, because there aren't any more books left to film, and so maybe there's a faint flicker of hope. Maybe now we've done the theme park, the studio tour, and the books and the films and the Halloween outfits, Mr Potter will fade from our lives, his floppy hair and abysmal acting naught but a memory. But I doubt it. My young girl will be indoctrinated into the dark ways of Rowling, and I won't be able to stop it. Because I'm just a muggle after all. And we don't understand.