My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

 
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I was 3 in 1997 when this was published. I cannot remember who introduced me to Potter, or when this book was bought for me, but I continued to read them and bought every book in the series on the day they were released – without fail. My copy of the Philosopher’s Stone is well read, as in falling to bits, has ketchup on the first couple of pages and reeks of an old book. As you can imagine, when asked what I would grab first in the event of a fire, God forbid, it would be this book. I read so many books as a kid and pinpointing one that set me on the path to be a writer – would be hard. I know I used to rip off Aesop’s Fables and write them in my own notebook, I wouldn’t change a lot of the story. I read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson’s books too and The Babysitter’s Club series of books. Of course, when you are young there are lots of other influences too that shape you as a writer. My uncles, music and cartoons were influences on me too.hp1

 

That said, a magical world of wizards, Whomping Willows (I used to be fascinated by the Willow trees in my school grounds – one that thumped you back, when those trees looked so gentle!?) muggles, dragons, and dark arts must have blown my mind at the time.

 
Having read the book, and watched the film, on many occasions it’s difficult to criticise it.

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The dialogue isn’t great, it gets you where you want to go, and you know how much I love dialogue. There’s a moment in the book, on page 137, that makes me feel I haven’t got my head screwed on right. Harry is playing Quidditch and the POV switches to Ron and Hermione speaking to Hagrid in the stands. It’s only a few lines, but I cannot remember many moments in the series where Harry isn’t involved directly. I know there have been chapters Harry hasn’t been present. I don’t know. Maybe I am completely wrong.

 
As ever, I am surprised at how much is crammed into the story. It seemed I was holding the book open, halfway through, and Harry had only got off the train and was making his way across the water to Hogwarts. The Nicholas Flamel mystery is packed into a few chapters, with the two storylines with the mirror and then Norbert, before Harry, Ron and Hermione are jumping into the unknown. The memories I have of the end of the Philosopher’s Stone are superimposed with the scenes in the film. I didn’t like they cut the potions challenge, although I know they had to :/

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Voldemort on the back of Professor’s Quirrell’s head looked terrible in the film. It makes you wonder; how do you function with Voldemort sticking out of the back of your head? What if he coughs or sneezes, wouldn’t that give him away? It’s like that negative voice in the back of my head, I can’t imagine Voldemort is a particularly pleasant housemate. Also, Dumbledore has a chat with Harry at the end, while he’s in the infirmary, and it is the start of Dumbledore fobbing Harry off, not giving him the facts. I could understand it for the first few years and then what does Dumbledore hope to achieve. Harry was going to start meeting Voldemort on a regular basis.


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Thanks for reading! Here is my review of The Half-Blood Prince

Unmasking Autism and Finding Self-Love – A Guest Post by Katie from @ Weird Sensitive Creatures

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For almost the first 22 years of my life, I never knew I was autistic. I’m 25 right now.. and after over 3 years of self-identifying as autistic, I got my official diagnosis last year.

After someone I was dating at the time told me about Autism and suggested I was autistic, it all finally clicked. My whole life, I’d felt so different, but I’d never known why. Now, I felt like I was finally getting these much needed answers.

But the more I learned about Autism, the more apparent some other things became to me: I didn’t know myself and I didn’t know how to love myself.

See, I realized that I’d learned to subconsciously mask my autistic traits so that I could fit in and appear ‘normal’ to my peers. In the Autism community, this is known as masking, and it’s why so many autistics don’t realize they’re…

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Today poetry collection House of Weeds is released ‘Weeds and humans overlap in this prickly-sweet fusion of poetry and illustration, painting tales of society’s outsiders’ Here is an interview with its author Amy Charlotte Kean.

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I’m on a journey to become as weird as David Lynch. I’d say I’m about 3% of the way there, so this may take a while. Most of what I write – my columns, my poems, by books – are about being yourself and accepting your weirdness. Some of us are more capable than others, because being yourself is an extremely brave act. Weirdness is feared intensely in the world, often by insecure people.

 
My first book The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks is about being completely, unapologetically yourself and not worrying what people think. I try not to be cliched about mental health. In the book, the main character Elodie-Rose deals with a constant buzzing and whirring in her brain whenever she decides to give zero fucks for something the day has thrown her way; like bullying or sexual harassment or even being told she’s too loud in debating class. Eventually, when she decides to live life as she chooses, the whirring stops. And in my upcoming poetry book, House of Weeds, every character has been labelled an outcast by society. The poems are about rebelling against norms and embracing your strange. Making peace with it.

I’ve been influenced by the oddest, most magical content: Jim Henson, Roald Dahl, The Mighty Boosh, The Worst Witch, horoscopes, Ella Frears, Anne Carson and Michael Rosen. There will always be a dark humour in my work, because I believe even the saddest, most terrifying situations need laughter.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

Every single waking second of every day I spend working, with my laptop open. It’s ruining my eyesight. And I live on Twitter, despite how angry it makes me. I write a lot of comment pieces on the themes of my books and have a regular column for a magazine called Shots, which is designed for the creative community. I’m known as outspoken, which is weird in and of itself, because I only talk about what I believe. In the book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson talks about how we’re cultivating a society where only the bland will thrive. I try and remember that when I write.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

 
House of Weeds, published by Fly on the Wall Press, is coming out on 17th May. As soon as the world is back to normal and it’s appropriate to do so, me and the book’s illustrator Jack Wallington are staging an immersive exhibition in Peckham, so you can go straight to the scene of the book, and live like its characters. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m also writing an audio sitcom and am in the final stages of a novel about the dark, exploitative side of the volunteering industry, set in Kenya.

 

4, What does poetry mean to you?

I struggle with the inaccessibility of poetry, sometimes. So many regular people simply feel they “don’t get it.” What a tragedy! I don’t want poetry to be a secret club, for English grads from redbrick universities who use the same words and voices. It defeats the object of the world being gifted this unrivalled art form that allows people to rip out a piece of their ridiculous brains and throw it on a page to see what happens. When I started writing poetry I was stunned at how much I could get away with, how much I was able to speak my mind, but do it beautifully, with wit and surprise. Poetry is therapy, genuinely. It’s becoming more accessible over time, and when my friends say to me “I don’t get it” it makes me sad, because they don’t realise that all you have to do is try.


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Amy Charlotte Kean is an advertising strategist, innovation consultant and writer from Essex. Her first book, the number 1 bestselling The Little Girl Who Gave Zero F*cks was published in 2018 with Unbound. Amy’s rants, reviews, short fiction and poems have been published in The Guardian, Huffington Post, Disclaimer, Glamour, Abridged, Burning House Press, Poetry Village and many others. She was shortlisted in the Reflex Flash Fiction competition and was an Ink, Sweat & Tears poet of the month. Her second book, House of Weeds, is out in May with Fly on the Wall Press.


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click here to buy your copy


 

A sweary brain dump on anxiety and counselling

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Hello

 
My counselling finished. I cannot afford it. After a year and however many months of trying to access help, I got it – from a women’s centre close to where I live. It has been 8 months, I think, of one session a week. I feel lost, to be honest. The decision was taken out of my hands. After last month’s depression and feeling lonely, I don’t think not having anyone to talk to is useful. It is shit. I am freaking out at being told I can start up again when I like but will be given a different counsellor depending on availability. I am sick of telling my story repeatedly to professionals. Especially when I’m like ‘oh, it’s fine!’ and they’re like, ‘that must have been tough for you,’ so I don’t like the thought of entrusting another person with my past. I know I’m no-one special and my experiences are not unique, it isn’t that a big deal.

 
I feel like I have opened all these wounds from the past and the memories are overwhelming at times. I haven’t figured out how to deal with them. I just feel shit about them.

 
My anxiety feels through the roof at the moment. I’m thinking about appointments I need to make after lockdown and even supermarket trips have an added layer of anxiety because of social distancing. It makes me feel like shit when you are in the supermarket and waiting for a person to finish picking up what they are getting from the shelf and they deliberate and change their mind and after three minutes I realise they have no idea I am there, waiting for them to move. Coughing doesn’t sound like a good idea to do now and I lose my voice in social environments, so after looking stupid, I go and get something else and come back when it’s free. It’s a worry I have, that I have no presence, that people seem to not notice me. It makes me think am I dead, am I invisible, is there something wrong with me?

 
No, people are knobheads, Kate.

 
The anxiety pisses me off. I have always had it and thought I was used to it and I actually realise it’s isolating and people are writing what they are going to do when they get out of lockdown and seeing friends and going to the beach and whatever. I’m writing stuff like see the doctor, go to the dentist, etc. because I haven’t in so long because anxiety is like ‘bitch, please. You really think you could do that without fucking up. Stay in your lane,’

 
Anxiety about my health is huge. I don’t think people appreciate what it takes, to phone to get an appointment and then building yourself up to go to the appointment. You’re thinking about what to wear, the bus, should I walk, the weather, what will happen in the appointment, what will I say, will I be taken seriously, will I be waiting long, do they have a toilet in the surgery, will they ask me to use the self-service machine I’ve never used before to weigh myself and get my height, will the receptionist be nice, will I be able to speak, will I make a fool of myself, what if I’m late, what if the doctor thinks I’m wasting their time, will they even look up from their computer at me, will I get a chance to speak my mind, what if I break the chair, will the surgery be busy, will everyone stare at me, what if the doctor doesn’t do anything, what if the doctor fobs me off, what if they give me medication and I have to tell them I cannot afford it and no, I’m not on benefits so I cant be exempt from charges, what if I don’t know the right stop to get off the bus, what if it rains, do I need an umbrella, which coat do I wear, will I get too hot, should I take a drink, should I take snacks, what am I going to do after, I’m going to have to walk past the railway tracks, it’s too loud, too many people –

 
You get the idea. Time becomes irrelevant. The appointment takes up every waking minute of every day leading up to it. I try and stay busy and distracted but it’s hard. I wish I could take my head off at times.

 
I know it’s ridiculous. I know if I could snap my fingers and not worry and be anxious, I would but I seemingly cannot. It’s the way I live. Every part of my life involves thinking too hard about it and I am in my comfort zone and when I dare try to do something new, anxiety pulls me in. It wants to save me from looking stupid and being rejected. It’s a nice thing of it to do, but it’s a hinderance, rather than a help. I realise that. Counselling has been one step out of the comfort zone, and it was positive. It was one day a week I left home and had a purpose. I was consistently going, my routine changed. Because it’s difficult for me to leave the flat without a goal, I need a reason to go out and other than shopping, visit to the public library, I got nothing. I have no-one to help me with that. I think a person could be of help. I have my boyfriend but, you know. He’s probably suffered as well. He’s outgoing but now he doesn’t do much either.

 
It’s frustrating because I nailed it late last year. Went out at least 5 days out of 7 and when my boyfriend and I went on holiday, we went out every day. I might have a good couple of days while on holiday and then I want to stay in the hotel room and not leave. It’s a positive we have been on holidays. It hasn’t been easy. Going to the shop to book the holiday, going to Primark to buy holiday clothes, packing literally everything in case we have burglars while we’re away, the travel to the airport, then navigating the airport, security, hours to kill, queues to buy an overpriced newspaper and bottle of water, delays, boarding, the transport to the plane, getting onto the plane, off the plane is horrendous and then queues to get through the airport, toilets, finding our luggage, transfer to the hotel is awful, check in, finding our room, food control issues so must first go the supermarket and buy supplies, restaurants, the beach, public toilets, body image problems – the list is endless and I do shut down. My boyfriend knows I’m not there at all and knows not to ask, just get me through the airport, onto the plane and to the hotel.

 

No-wonder I get burnout.

 
I tried to find positives here. I’m trying, which is good.
Thanks for reading, Drop a comment if I said anything that made sense to you.


 

4 Classics on my shelf I still need to read

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I thought this book was longer than it is. It’s actually a reasonable length. I’ve always struggled with Charles Dickens. I know his books are supposed to be humorous? I have never been able to recognise that, trying to get past some of the language and obviously society was different then. I did read Oliver Twist and I liked that one. I will give this a go. I’m sure I have already read some of it.


Howard’s End by E. M. Forster– I read a few pages and I had to put it back down. I find with some classics the way women are spoken of and to is too much. I like to chill with a book sometimes, not only for education and getting angry. I did read A Passage to India by this author, it was recommended by my English teacher at the time and that one I did enjoy. I will have to re-read that.


The Waves by Virginia Woolf – I love the way this woman writes, but. But this didn’t grab me. I put it down and haven’t gotten around to picking it up again yet. I read some of her books and I think I was too young to fully appreciate them. Like Orlando, didn’t get it. I read a lot of classics around the age of 11/12 and while I enjoyed them, I don’t think I fully appreciated when, why etc. they were written and about the writer. I think I just absorbed them.
I love the cover of this book, only cost 80 pence in the 70’s. If only books cost that now. I mean, postage costs a couple of quid.


Far from the Madding Crowd – I read Jude the Obscure when I was 16? Love the name Jude. That’s all it took for me to read it, the name Jude. And that was me done with Thomas Hardy. Done. Too much. Bit like poking a bruise, curiosity made me buy this one, I bought Jude the Obscure too, and perhaps I will read it. Will I re-read Jude the Obscure though? I’m not sure.