Expecto Remo

The crest of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It wouldn’t take much to replace those wands with oars.

13 December 2019

By Greg Denieffe

Greg Denieffe waves his wand at Hogwarts School.

The HTBS phenomenon that is most admired by some of our readers is the ability of the elves at Buckhorn Towers to find rowing links where you would least expect one.

J. K. Rowling (or Rowing, as her name is sometime spelt on eBay) herself, would probably admit that her Harry Potter series would fail the rigorous test we set to warrant inclusion on a rowing blog. We have three simple rules:

  1. If Göran says it can be posted, then it can be posted.
  2. For inclusion, the subject matter must have a rowing connection, no matter how insignificant.
  3. See rule number one.

She would probably be correct if we stuck to the storyline of her books, of which there are seven, all of which became blockbusters when adapted for cinema. As luck would have it, the screenwriters for the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, changed the location of one of the key scenes (with her blessing), and so, we have more than enough ammo for a HTBS HP post.

As Christmas approaches, television stations are gearing up for their film-fest and if the last two years are anything to go by, then the Harry Potter VIII (for whilst there are seven books, there are eight films) will grace our screens on consecutive nights sometime between the winter solstice and the Epiphany.

Spoiler alert. If you don’t want to know how Severus Snape gets his comeuppance, switch over to row2k now.

Voldemort and Snape discuss crew selection for the Head of the Lake or perhaps not. Picture: harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Boathouse.

Snape is a Professor at Hogwarts that seems to hate Harry, but he is a wizard of great skill. He is a complicated character and not one that I like or see as a hero. Rowling herself joined a Twitter debate about why he had to die and tweeted, “Snape is grey. You can’t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can’t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world”. Twitter being Twitter, she was ‘corrected’ by a Muggle who replied, “no he died to clear his conscience”. Snape dies at the hands of Lord Voldemort in the seventh book (eight film) and it is the location of his death that gets changed betwixt the page and the silver screen.

Potter fans will remember from the book that Lord Voldemort orders his snake Nagini to kill Snape in the Shrieking Shack during the Battle of Hogwarts. In the film, the death scene is in the school boathouse.

Snape’s Death Scene – spot the rack of old oars, the metal riggers and the brass loud hailer.

There is some debate about why the location of this scene was changed: the two most popular being distance from the battle and to give the viewers a more dramatic backdrop. As the Shrieking Shack is located on the outskirts of Hogsmeade Village, the timing of Harry getting from Hogwarts to the Shack and back again would not fit the story timeline. But Harry is a wizard and I don’t think that would be a problem for him so, perhaps it was for purely aesthetic reasons.

The rack of oars in the Hogwarts Boathouse. Picture: i.imgur.com.

Hogwarts has four houses called after the four founders of the school. Their colours are: Gryffindor – Scarlet and Gold; Ravenclaw – Blue and Bronze; Slytherin – Green and Silver, and Hufflepuff – Yellow and Black. There are at least two houses represented in the above picture. I suppose we’ll never know if there was a Hogwarts School Boat Club or just competition for House Fours, Pulling and Sculling. But if there was, would they have had a ‘flying start’ or a ‘flying finish’?

“Wingrigger Leviosa”. Spell © Greg Denieffe and Image by the artist Steve Best. It graced a birthday card I received a few years ago.

In December 2017, the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club named their Trial Eights after spells in the Harry Potter books. Expecto Patronum and Wingardium Leviosa conjured up a fine race and if you know your spells, you can easily work out who won that particular duel. If not, read Tim Koch’s report here.

At home, I have my own duel to contend with as both daughters are Harry Potter avids.

Êtes-vous prêt? Disapparate! No 1 daughter checks out Steve Redgrave’s and Matthew Pinsent’s brooms at The River and Rowing Museum.
You don’t choose the wand; the wand chooses you. It’s not always clear why, as a confused No 2 daughter demonstrates.

Finally, a game for all the family. If J. K. Rowing did exist, what would the books and films have been called? For what it’s worth, here is my list – feel free to add yours in the comments section.

Harry Potter and …

The Philosopher’s Exercise
The Chambers of Coleraine
The Prisoner of the Bosbaan
The Goblets of Silver
The Orders of the Coxswain
The Half-Blood Blister
The Deathly Cleaver

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