As pointless exercises go, collecting a copy of the latest Harry Potter at midnight Friday/Saturday comes fairly close. Because this is the last book expected in the series, and because the oldest Chip off the Old Hack was able to keep himself awake this time, I relented and we traipsed into town amid the latest Friday convention of Bath binge-drinkers to join the thronging hundreds in wizard costumes queuing up outside the two chosen bookshops.

There was clearly a Pareto 80/20 distribution going on, with Waterstone’s bagging the lion’s share of buyers in exchange for some form of goodie bag (or so I heard), while the smart money (KH and COTOH included), who did not want to stay up all night, chose the more down-at-heal WH Smith’s outlet, where a more straightforward and expeditious exchange of money-for-book took place. It was not really a party atmosphere, more like some tired observance of a ritual whose original import has been forgotten. The only spectacle was that of the muggle bingers taunting the Potterholics.

Well, I’m no wizard, so being up until 1:30am played havoc with my sleep pattern, particularly after a hard day’s interval training. It should come as no surprise. As we pointed out the other day courtesy of the New Scientist, our genes oscillate out of sync if we don’t sleep at the right time, and this can affect mood, immunity, and other complex physiological and neurological processes. I needed all the recovery a good night’s sleep will afford.

That might have been why I decided that instead of just one book, I’d enrich Dame J.K. Enterprises by another £11 to get a copy for the smallest COTOH. This was not wise, and an unusual departure to double up on items that otherwise can readily be handed-down. But, I (un)reasoned, this was the last book and so would be special, and SCOTOH would verbally tear me to pieces when he woke up to find he’d missed the midnight trip to the bookshop.

Now SCOTOH has not read the first Harry Potter yet, and the latest installment is supposedly very dark indeed — which I had not realised, not reading the newspapers. So by mid-morning Saturday I looked like a very bad parent indeed. While the SCOTOH may not be the most advanced reader, he is one of the smartest. The Knackered Hack ethos is to delay gratification and SCOTOH knows it well. He went straight to the last page, read it, and broadcast the ending.

MORAL: early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy wealthier to the tune of £21.98, and wise pleasantly ignorant of the denouement of the most significant publishing phenomenon of the 21st century.

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