Professor Dumbledore appears at Potter party

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 25, 2003

Announce a Harry Potter party, and you can bet I'll do my best to be there. And that's just what I did when Mary Lou Davis, owner of Bentleys Books in Cochrane, extended a community-wide invitation to attend her June 20 launching of J.K. Rowling's fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Now, my grandchildren are convinced that, under the right conditions, I resemble Professor Albus Dumbledore as portrayed on the screen by the late Richard Harris.

Professor Dumbledore, I'm sure you all know, is the benevolent white-haired, long-bearded headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where Harry is now in his fifth year.


Kathryn Davis, 9, poses with "Professor Dumbledore" (Warren Harbeck) at Bentleys Books' Harry Potter party June 20. Davis, the daughter of Bentleys' owner May Lou Davis, was dressed as Hermione. Photo by Mary Lou Davis

So, wanting to dress in the spirit of the occasion, I donned my professorial robes: a royal bath towel, matching bed sheet, and my wife's bold "gold" chain, with some help from the good folks at Grand Saddlery (for a "slicker" appearance). Then I let my hair down and put on my half-frame glasses.

With my wife Mary Anna by my side dressed as the stern-eyed deputy headmistress Professor McGonagall, I stepped into Bentleys a half-hour before the magical moment when the books went on sale.

To our amazement, the store – smaller than the shop where Harry bought his first magic wand – was packed with over a hundred fans young and old, several in costume.

Among them were at least two dressed as Harry's bright but bossy friend Hermione. One was Mary Lou's daughter, Kathryn Davis, 9, a Grade 3 student at Holy Spirit school.

The other was Julia Belsey, 10, a Grade 4 student at Glenbow Elementary school. Her brother Alex, 12, in Grade 6 at Mitford Middle school, was also there, dressed as Rubeus Hagrid, Hogwarts' gamekeeper.

I was really happy to see Alex and Julia's dad there, too, because if any school ever needed the help of Bill Belsey, Hogwarts certainly does. Bill is the world-renowned creator of I think he could offer much-needed advice for dealing with the evil wizard Voldemort and the mean-spirited Draco Malfoy, of Slytherin House.

Well, when midnight arrived, you never saw a happier bunch. Some held up their copies of the long-awaited book as if they were showing off Olympic gold.

But in middle of the night while reading their trophies, others let out a howl. A sinister scheme had robbed them of whole chapters. Of the 8.5 million copies printed, thousands around the world had pages missing, and Bentleys just happened to receive some of the defective stock.

Consistent with Harry's sense of fair play, Mary Lou assures me she will gladly make exchanges.

© 2003 Warren Harbeck

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