Suddenly, an unseen voice carries through the foggy, late October chill. “ACTION!” The filming of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is underway.
I’m shivering on a fenced-in sidewalk just around the corner from filming, standing next to a girl no older than nine as snot drips out of her nose onto the pages of her soft cover Prince. I can’t see a damn thing, and I’m beginning to wonder if this impromptu side trip from London has really been worthwhile. But I do know one thing: if I have to stand in the bitter cold next to this mucus factory while creepy middle-aged men wearing witch hats hum along to masturbatory Daniel Radcliffe fantasies, I’m going to poke my eyes out with my wand.
The shuttle bus that will soon take us back to the train station is parked just beyond a line of police officers and studio security personnel. In a moment of true inspiration, my equally deranged girlfriend suggests we make a ballsy run for it. When we reach the bus we keep right on going and turn the corner to behold a startling scene.
In a small square dominated by an old war memorial, a man in a long white beard and flowing robes extends his hand to a tousle-haired boy with a scar on his forehead. They whisper intently to each other and approach a small house on the periphery of the square. They are then obscured by the policewoman’s head that bounds into my view.
“Whaheryyah doin’ har?” She asks in a language not entirely unlike English. “Are yah goin tahtha pub?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Cheers!” She responds happily.
Inside the snug George Inn pub, business goes on as usual on a Friday night, albeit with a considerably more family-oriented crowd. With the faces of locals and visitors alike pressed against the windows, a quiet suddenly falls over the square as Harry and Albus Dumbledore draw nearer.
A year from now, after the aid of months of multimillion dollar special effects, Harry and Dumbledore will have magically “apparated” into this small village. Today, however, there are several takes of hushed dialogue before Radcliffe jumps into a black minivan and is driven through the crowd of fans to his waiting trailer.
Twenty minutes later, on the train back to London, I’m reminded of why Great Britain is in so many ways the greatest and most bizarre country in the world – you can stare out of a pub window and see Harry Potter, country policepersons are wonderfully adept at providing you excuses to be where you shouldn’t, even the most sinister person uses “love,” “oh, bless” and “cheers” like commas and everyone loves a good penis joke.
When we boarded the bus, the driver asked where we were coming from. I told her: “Lacock.”
“Lee-cock?” she repeated.
She stared at me dumbfounded and then let out a cacophonous, throaty cackle.
“You mean LAY-cock. LAY-cock! Oh, bless. Love, you don’t want to confuse people with what kind of cock you want, love!”