In which our intrepid hero contemplates things Potterly.

As it turns out, Potterthon was a bit of a shambles. Our DVD player died after The Philosopher’s Stone, and it turns out that Leo and Connie couldn’t make it for the full marathon anyway.

We ended up seeing The Order of the Phoenix at IMAX, though (albeit two days later than anticipated), and whilst we were in Queensland, Mim K/W and I picked up a decent DVD player from ALDI for the paltry sum of $AUD35.

(Incidentally, I have to confess a secret love for ALDI; it’s the kind of supermarket chain I would run if I had a couple of billion in startup capital. The dividing line between discount stores, department stores and supermarkets is fairly sharp in Australia, but ALDI specialises in delivering both staples and bizarre random crap at bargain-basement prices.

Had I had an extra $AUD130 to throw away, for instance, I could’ve bought myself an electric guitar whilst I was there. Then all I would have to do is develop musical talent.)

After we got back to Sydney, I popped The Goblet of Fire in the new DVD player for about 20 minutes to test its audio and video capabilities, and I watched The Chamber of Secrets today. Sometime soon, I’ll get around to seeing The Prisoner of Azkaban again.

All in all, I’ve seen four-and-a-bit of the five Potter movies thus far.

As a former government adviser, the whole idea of a Ministry of Magic intrigues me. The Order of the Phoenix implies that the Minister on occasion reports to the (UK) Muggle Prime Minister. At the beginning of The Goblet of Fire, we see Minister Fudge open the Quidditch World Cup, and it would seem that such would form part of his ministerial duties.

The Ministry seems to form a secret government with total jurisdiction over witches, wizards and assorted supernatural phenomena, but it is nonetheless prima facie responsible to the larger Muggle government apparatus. Still, it is a secret arm of government.

You could imagine Gordon Brown‘s first day on the job:

Principal Private Secretary: …And this is the agenda for the Cabinet meeting at 3pm, sir, with a list of attendees.

Prime Minister: Miliband, Miliband, Purnell… say, who’s this Shacklebolt chap?

Secretary: He’s the Minister for Magic, sir.

PM: The Minister for what?

Secretary: Magic, sir.

PM: For a moment, I thought you said “Magic”.

Secretary: But I did, sir—Shacklebolt is the Minister for Magic, sir.

PM: How very droll. Now quit playing around.

Secretary: I’m quite serious, sir. Mr Shacklebolt was appointed the Minister for Magic after Mr Thicknesse resigned from the post.

PM: Are you trying to tell me that we actually have a Ministry for Magic—

Secretary: Yes, sir.

PM:—and that magic actually exists?

Secretary: Yes, sir.

PM (facetiously): And I suppose goblins exist, too?

Secretary: Yes, sir—in fact, they play a significant role in the banking and metals sectors.

PM: What? Does Darling know about this?

Secretary: I believe so, sir, yes.

PM: Good God! Darling isn’t a goblin himself, is he?

Secretary (clearing throat): Sir, might I draw your attention to the upcoming visit by the Premier of China…

And you thought Truman had it tough on his first day.

Presumably, the Minister should be an MP, albeit one with a constituency limited to spellcasters; he would hold his seat in a similar manner to Maori members in New Zealand. And if he’s a secret MP (probably in the Commons), then he can’t be used to determine the outcome of general elections.

Although I haven’t read the books yet, Wikipedia implies that this sort of arrangement is quite common; the existence of World Cup Quidditch teams suggests sizeable international wizardly communities.

And to support these sort of government bodies, there either has to be a whole lot of alchemy going on, or an undisclosed number of $500 screwdrivers are being requisitioned by government departments across the world.

Think about that next time Budget night rolls around…