I feel I sort of know JK Rowling as my friend Bridget went to Exeter University, but a few years before JK, so I know someone who nearly knew JK Rowling, as Sweet Irene puts it.
On holiday once we also went to Christ Church College, Oxford where they film some of it, but weren't allowed in, but peered in through the window at the great staircase they use in the films, until chased off by one of the college wardens.
Today we went to see 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix', and we took Jack's friend Ross. I notice that the staircase still features, but digitally remastered so that it goes on and on.
Sad to say, I think that JK is spinning it out rather as the plot is labyrinthine and complex, with more twists and turns than the fabled bull-like beast himself had to face. It is so complex that as usual I had to ask my kids what was going on. I think complex plots are a bad sign, perhaps that JK has run out of ideas.
Of course, a few years ago, when the whole Harry Potter phenomenon came into being we all thought it was great. The first book is the only children's novel I have read through to my son, a chapter a night, and which we never abandoned in the attempt. All the spin-offs were great fun, we had loads of little round Harry Potter specs (Eleanor got some real round ones, but pink), Harry Potter coins, games, dolls and I've just noticed that we've still got a Harry Potter water bottle at the back of the cupboard. Lots of broomstick action occurred, with little would-be Harrys flying around the garden with anything to hand, mops, sticks and once they even wanted to use those broomstick-like fire beaters that you sometimes see left out in forests in case there is a forest fire. Indeed, at the time, I must have had broomsticks on the brain because (another eg. of my faux pas)once at a toddler group I was going to help sweep up the debris and said to the leader 'Have you got a broomstick I could use, please?' Actually, this isn't too bad as at least I am putting myself down too.
We got some proper broomsticks when we bought the dressing-up gear, which means that we are now never short of outfits at Halloween, when my kids go trick or treating, as they all do round here. A great American custom which has cuaght on here, and which everyone takes in the right spirit.
I think the secret of the Harry Potter phenomenon is the great central idea of Hogworts, the magic academy, which is a whole new imaginary world which JK can elaborate on to her heart's content, partially based on Exeter University, I suspect. If it is magic then anything can happen. Then she can have flying, talking telegrams, games of quidditch where people go flying through the air and people walking through walls at stations. I think one of the stations they used was on the North York Moors, and we've been there too.