A slight change from recent blog posts as, although the content mentioned previously still justifies being written, I have not had time to add it. Therefore for this month’s post a short piece of Harry Potter fan fiction written from an idea and title sparked by the recent Weymouth Writing Matters group take-away prompt of Absent Friends. The date is the usual start date for Surrey schools and has been verified*(1).
Wednesday, 4th September 1991, was proving a worrisome day for one small, now insignificant, boy. Gordon Harrison’s two best friends from the last few years, Dudley Dursley and Piers Polkiss, had both left, going off together to Smeltings, their new private school but Gordon’s parents had not felt the expense was value for money. With its annual fees well over the cost of a new car the Harrisons felt that, however much Gordon nagged, whined and badgered about it, Smeltings just wasn’t worth the effort or expense.
It wasn’t that his parents were anti private education, oh no, they just couldn’t afford to enrol him into the few private schools where the nation’s true elite sent their sons and daughters and therefore considered, perhaps rightly, that anywhere less showed a loss of face. Smeltings was definitely a non-U sort of school to the Harrison’s social circle. Also, if truths were to be shared, which in the Harrisons circle of suburban cronies of course it rarely was, neither parent felt Gordon was bright enough to justify the cost. No, the cover story of wanting to support the local education system was good enough and far more socially acceptable all round.
Had they felt inclined to do so finding school fees for Gordon would have meant dropping too many other social activities and niceties; their motor cruiser on the Solent and the villa in the Dordogne brought with them just that necessary veneer of social respectability that funding a second-rate school for the boy couldn’t match. Albert and Jennifer Harrison understood the social niceties of commuter belt Surrey in the way that neither the fawning Vernon Dursley, nor his shrew like wife Petunia, had ever quite grasped.
The outcome of the long months of one-sided family arguments had led to this morning and Gordon standing waiting for a number 442 bus into Stanwell by himself. Technically he wasn’t alone at the bus stop at the end of Privet Drive; but he was undoubtedly there on his own. The other children with him, also off to Stonewall High the local comprehensive, were a mix of ages, laughing, joking, sharing, brothers, sisters, friends, a mix of school years, but all noticeably shunning Gordon. He was going to have to face the new big school for the first time on his own.
Without his two mates there was no one to bully and the gang’s former school morning target, Dudley’s cousin Harry, had also gone off to a school up-country somewhere. So here he stood, surrounded by the kids who had been his classmates at the Little Whinging Primary for the last six years, and they were not interested in him.
From the smallest bedroom window of number 4 Privet Drive Petunia Dursley had earlier caught a glimpse of Dudley’s friend walking past on his way to the bus stop and wondered how her own boy was settling in at Smeltings. To her nephew, Harry Potter, who’s bed she had been stripping for the weekly wash, she gave hardly a thought.
When the bus arrived Gordon was jostled and pushed, an elbow caught him hard in the ribs, and he was sure young Deidre Fortescue had stood on his toes on purpose. Last on board he was forced to stand as the other youngsters took the seats reserved for them by their friends. It was going to be a long, long term for Gordon Harrison.
- As with the Hogwarts term dates UK Independent and State schools do not, of necessity, have matching term dates. Whether or not Dudley and Piers would have left for Smeltings to commence their term before the start of the term at Stonewall High is unknown. All canon suggests in Philosophers Stone is that Dudley was going off to have his tail removed after Harry had been dropped at Kings Cross on 1st September.
- Incidentally Wednesday 4th is the correct day/date; 1st September 1991 was a Sunday. Some divergences exit between actual and written calendars as documented here.
- Gordon [Surname unspecified] is a member of Dudley’s bullying gang as mentioned in Chap 3 of Philosophers Stone.
- COPYRIGHT – All references to the Harry Potter characters and locations mentioned above are fully recognised as the intellectual property of J K Rowling and her publishers.