36 hours of Potter

<p>6 a.m.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Friday)&nbsp; Wake up before alarm.&nbsp; Iron fabric for new window display &ndash; only decided on this yesterday &ndash; we&rsquo;ll be blowing up 100 balloons.</p>
<p>7.30&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Arrive at shop.&nbsp; Do today's orders.</p>
<p>8.30&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Chase school about sale-or-return books not yet returned; today is last day of term.</p>
<p>9.15&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Student staff start blowing balloons.&nbsp; We work in chaos.&nbsp; Phone keeps going.&nbsp; Zoe is in the window &ndash; packing it with balloons.</p>
<p>10.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Bloomsbury email brings reassurance that Sainsburys are giving away 5 new HPs with signed bookplates left over from a previous launch &ndash; not signed books!&nbsp; (So that's what &quot;Win a signed HP &amp; DH!&quot; means!)</p>
<p>11.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; First Harry Potter delivery from wholesaler.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s been doubled (this will turn out to be a good thing).</p>
<p>11.30 Rep delivers some more HP bags.&nbsp; Not enough.&nbsp; So how shall we handle this? &ndash; hang onto them for some of the customers who&rsquo;ve pre-reserved &ndash; or give them to the people who come in from the midnight queue.</p>
<p>12.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Staff carry on blowing balloons.</p>
<p>12.15&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Second delivery comes.&nbsp; The driver has driven through probably the only flooded road in Muswell Hill to reach us.&nbsp; Some of his packages are wet where water has forced in &ndash; but the Harry Potters are safe &ndash; they were above the flood line up on pallets.</p>
<p>3.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Now I'm told the outside (the only) loo isn&rsquo;t flushing.&nbsp; Spend time standing on loo seat to re-fix lever to chain (yes &ndash; the antique overhead design, worthy of Hogwarts).&nbsp; The Heath Robinson hooking-up works.&nbsp; But we&rsquo;ll get a plumber next week.&nbsp; Now realise I&rsquo;ve got cobwebs in my hair (scenic appearance for night? &ndash; no).</p>
<p>3.30&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Realise we have no CDs in our delivery &ndash; distributor maintains we never ordered them &ndash; too late to worry now.</p>
<p>4.30&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; First eager HP fan arrives to start our queue &ndash; 2 upturned plastic crates for him and his mum (later on his sister) to sit on &ndash; Gameboy, provisions and other means to fill the time.</p>
<p>4.35&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Journalist from Dutch radio arrives to interview me about HP, the big stores and the independents.</p>
<p>6.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Regular staff leave &ndash; advise them not to drink too much before returning at 11.&nbsp; Students and I (the door locked) start to unpack.</p>
<p>6.30&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The assistant manager phones in to remind me we haven't put the HPs on the stock system.&nbsp; (That would have been a nuisance; what if the till at midnight didn&rsquo;t register the book?).</p>
<p>7.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Leave shop.&nbsp; No one else has yet joined the queue-starting child and his mum.&nbsp; Are we going to have a decent queue?</p>
<p>10.50&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Return to the shop.&nbsp; Yes we have a queue!&nbsp; In old-fashioned British way those waiting have actually assemble into traditional queue formation.&nbsp; Start to hand out competitions &ndash; haven&rsquo;t got quite enough pens and pencils &ndash; but people (bless them!) are willing to share.&nbsp; Long suffering son-in-law sent out to photograph the queue.</p>
<p>11.45&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Phone call from BBC Breakfast team.&nbsp; They&rsquo;d entered the wrong postcode in their SatNav.&nbsp; They&rsquo;re somewhere in Willesden.&nbsp; Panic moment &ndash; how to get from Willesden to here?&nbsp; Throw phone at sleeping partner to talk them through a route.</p>
<p>11.49&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Angry phone call from someone in one of the flats above: why a queue, why so much noise?</p>
<p>11.50&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Japanese film crew arrive.</p>
<p>Next hour or so:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; COMPLETE BLUR.&nbsp; Lots of family groups.&nbsp; Girls who&rsquo;ve grown up with Harry talking to the (now arrived) BBC camera.&nbsp; LONG QUEUE outside. Copies of THE BOOK moving at great speed.&nbsp; Characters from the book all around.&nbsp; 2 of our extra helpers volunteered for dog minding outside.</p>
<p>12.45&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Second call from same neighbour upstairs: sorry. But it is a not-to-be repeated special night. Slight tinge of disappointment from call dissipated when 2 customers insist on paying the full cover price.&nbsp; As a point of principle.</p>
<p>1.45&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Last customer leaves.&nbsp; Exhaustion imminent.&nbsp; Arrange transport home for staff members.&nbsp; Thank goodness for the extra copies of the book.&nbsp; Still have some left for the morning.&nbsp; And the loo&rsquo;s still working.</p>
<p>6.30 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Catch clips of articulate customers on BBC Breakfast.&nbsp; Yes it&rsquo;s us!&nbsp; We&rsquo;re on!</p>
<p>8.00&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Return to shop and start to clear up.&nbsp; Quick glance at competiton entries from the queue.&nbsp; Not everyone did the who might die competition but the 178 votes (all on a write-in basis &ndash; we made no suggestions) include:</p>
<p>Voldemort&nbsp; 43</p>
<p>Harry himself&nbsp; 23</p>
<p>Snape&nbsp; 20</p>
<p>Ron&nbsp; 15</p>
<p>Hermione&nbsp; 12</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; - and lower votes for 14 other characters</p>
<p>Reassurance for some when they get reading?</p>
<p>Sometime in the morning &ndash; messages brought in.&nbsp; BBC Breakfast had done us proud: lots of clips from just after midnight and then Kate (and her daughter) in the studio . . . saw it on the video afterwards.&nbsp; A third customer insists on paying full price.</p>
<p>I&rsquo;d said it would all be over by noon.&nbsp; Wrong!&nbsp; The day keeps going.&nbsp; The cause?&nbsp; Perhaps it&rsquo;s the weather.&nbsp; We all need a feel-good event.&nbsp; But it&rsquo;s also an end-of-childhood thing!&nbsp; That makes it momentous for the fans who&rsquo;ve grown up with him.&nbsp; We did have a daytime feel-bad moment.&nbsp; Customer wants to return his new HP, but we have a no returns policy.&nbsp; Might &ndash; looking at our lowering stock - have given way if he'd been able to give us back his HP loyalty cards.&nbsp; He shouts to the rest of the shop: &quot;Don't buy it here &ndash; get it at John Lewis for &pound;5&quot;&nbsp; (What a good idea I almost think as I try to look sideways at the few copies we have left).&nbsp; But we all need the sight of one dark cloud to point out the brightness a blue sky &ndash; not that the real sky had shown much blue over the last day or two.&nbsp; And we kept on selling HPs.</p>
<p>6.00 p.m.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Close shop for the day.</p>
<p>For us, the support that came to us from lots of lovely, lively customers was the real thing.&nbsp; Ones we&rsquo;ve seen grow up and younger ones we hope will keep on coming.&nbsp; What should we suggest next for them to read?</p>