Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter Update; Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Parts 8, 9, & 10

I officially have a copy of the final Harry Potter book, obtained precisely six minutes after it went on sale.

...Which reminds me of the Thing I'll Miss #8: I will miss being in the world's first metropolitan timezone. NZ lives in the future... literally! Since any given date (or time) happens here first, it gives me extra time to remember people's birthdays, something I'm normally terrible at. AND it means that NZ is able to sell its Harry Potter books before any other country, thus giving its residents the opportunity to own the book almost a day before the rest of the world. That's pretty neat.

I was almost late for the opening of the bookstore that I intended to watch, as I was intercepted by the world's friendliest cat (Thing I'll Miss #9). He's a sweetheart, and I can never pass him on the (186) steps without petting him. I've never known a cat to come running to you, meowing to tell you how happy he is to see you... but that's exactly what this one does. Especially if I've ever had a hard day, which he seems to already know. I am powerless to resist such a cute fuzzball.

On the walk to the bookstore, I try and make up for lost time by moving quickly. That isn't too hard, as Willis st (downtown) is a veritable ghost town on Saturday morning. Surely the bookstore would be equally deserted...?

I arrive, 5 minutes before it opens, to find barely a dozen people waiting outside the store. As per the original plan, I grab a coffee across the street, then sit down to people-watch. Seeing the people in line, and the staff opening the bookstore doors, I am reminded of the tenth thing I'll miss...

Thing I'll Miss About New Zealand #10: Wellingtonians will take ANY excuse to dress up in zany costumes!

About half of the people there, and of those turning up, are dressed up as wizards, fairies, Hogwarts students, princesses, you name it. The staff are in magical cowls, capes and caps, some more elaborate than others.

After a browse, and hearing the news that the book could not be legally sold before 11:01 AM (just under two hours to go), I plunked myself in line. Having brought reading material of my own (100 Bullets, volume 8), and having most of my coffee left, I was well-placed for a wait.

People filed in slowly at first, and by 10:00 the place was very busy. The line was now all the way around the store, and various radio stations showed up to do interviews and offer prizes. New Zealand candy companies -- including Whittaker's, the local chocolate-makers -- sent representatives with brimming baskets to keep the everyone fed. There was even a hired magician doing fun tricks and making balloon animals. Later, an impromptu costume competition took place. It was a great time.

I noticed a familiar accent from the girl in front of me, who turned out to be American. She was thrilled to be getting her copy so far ahead of her friends in the US, and we laughed gratefully at the short line (compared to any we'd face at a North American bookstore). Behind me was a groovy grandma with her adorable 15-year-old grandson, each waiting for a copy of their own. They strategized with each other the pace they'd read at, so they could call each other up at intervals to talk about what was happening. Seriously, how cute is that?

Between chatting with the others in line, and reading my comics, the wait went by quite quickly. (The fact that I was only fifteenth in line didn't hurt, either...) At 11:02, the line was moving, and I had my own copy of the book (in a special bag, even!) at 11:07. I was almost sorry to leave the festivities behind, but who am I kidding -- I wanted to go home and read!

So that's what I'm off to do now. (New Harry Potter book + hot cuppa tea + Poang chair = BLISS!)

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