It was generally agreed that Harry Baron was indeed crazy.
Ever since he was a ten-year-old Harry dreamed of becoming a wizard and for his eleventh birthday on December 25th 2007 he demanded a copy of the very latest ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation’.
This was a very expensive purchase for his parents, who were both teachers, but they agreed with Harry that he may have it as a combined Christmas and Birthday present so long as he promised to be a good boy throughout the next twelve months.
Of course Harry made the promise, and on Monday 24th December the package was delivered by the Courier. It was a much bigger package than Harry or his parents had expected. They placed the ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation’ with the other gifts by the Christmas tree.
The family agreed that Harry and his little sister Emily would not open their gifts until after breakfast on Christmas Day.
Emily awoke first on Christmas morning. It was just past 4 a.m. and it was still very dark. She scrambled to the bedroom window and, using her chair, looked out hoping to see snow lying deep and crisp and even all over the garden. All the nine year old saw was that it was raining and wind was blowing dead leaves around.
She climbed back into her bed, turned on her bedside light and started to read.
Emily’s movements woke Harry from his dream about changing his sister into a pile of sweets and when her light came on he could see it through the crack under the door.
Harry turned over and looked towards his alarm clock. The time it was showing was 28:14.
Harry bolted upright and on the way his head knocked against the headboard of the bed. He rubbed his head and felt a little lump forming.
The clock was definitely showing the time as 28:15. This was weird. He got out of bed and put on his slippers so he would not make too much noise and wake his parents up.
He opened the bedroom door and he could see the light was on in Emily’s room. He could tell that she had gone back to sleep because of the sound of her breathing. He could hear Dad snoring so Harry decided to go downstairs.
As he entered the living room he saw that his package was no longer where it had been placed the day before. In its place stood a huge, old fashioned, grandfather’s clock. It had a multi-coloured painted case with a glass front, a decorated pendulum which gently swung from side to side as the clock made a beautiful ‘tick-tock’ sound.
But it was the clock face that caught his attention. The clocks dial was not the usual layout of I to XII but it had a layout catering for fifteen hours not twelve. Right now the small hand was against the IX and the big hand against the VII. There was a second hand too, but that was rotating the wrong way round the clock!
Harry turned on the television and checked the time. It was 28:27.
Looking back at the clock he worked out that the time the clock was showing was indeed consistent with the time the TV declared. Harry started to get worried, but then he wondered where his package had gone?
He glanced round the room and spotted a gold leaf covered book on which was laying a silver and black magic wand. His magic wand!
Harry picked up the wand and he got what felt like a small electric shock causing him to drop it onto the carpet. Cagily he bent down and picked it up. This time it felt like an old friend.
The gold leaf book had a title ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation – Paret Unus’.
What did Paret Unus mean Harry wondered?
He picked up the book and opened it up and read the dedication. “In gratitude to Emily Baron who gave up her dolls so that she and her brother Harry could have loads of sweets on Christmas Day”. Harry’s jaw fell open as he read this.
Clutching tightly onto his wand and the golden book, Harry rushed upstairs to Emily’s room. He opened her door and there was Emily greedily eating her way through a pile of jelly babies, chocolate buttons, and liquorice allsorts.
Knowingly he asked her where the sweets had come from?
“I woke up and my light was on and I thought it must be Christmas already. I started playing with Jemima and Teddy and said I wish you dolls were sweets. And Jemima turned into a pile of jelly babies, Teddy became chocolate buttons, and Golly turned into liquorice allsorts.
“What’s more, as you eat them the piles never go down.
“It must be magic.”
“It must be” said Harry as he joined his sister scoffing sweets.
After a minute or so where the only sounds to be heard from that room were two children eating and eating.
After a while they both felt sleepy and Emily got back under her covers and Harry went back to his own bed.
Four Hours later Mum and Dad Baron were waking their children. They were really cross.
“For goodness sake, what have you two been up to?” asked Dad. “Where did all these sweets come from Emily Baron? What have you been doing during the night Harry, Emily, just what have you been up to?”
Just then a scream came from downstairs. A long shrill scream followed by Mum’s voice calling out “George, come down here urgently, I can’t believe this ….” and she became incoherent.
George ran downstairs and joined his wife Mary. What they saw was a picture of devastation. The Christmas tree was down and decorations and needles were strewn all round the living room. The gifts had all been opened and scraps of wrapping paper were everywhere.
By now Harry and Emily had joined them and were standing in disbelief at the doorway.
“Mum, Dad this had nothing to do with us” Harry pleaded. Emily joined in, “honest mummy I was upstairs all night.” Harry kept quiet about his visit to the lounge at 17 minutes past 28 o’clock.
Looking around the room there was no sign of the grandfather’s clock and he realised that the golden book and wand were in the pockets of the dressing gown he was wearing.
The presents strewn around the lounge were being collected up by Mrs Baron as her husband was reassembling the remains of the tree and mumbling to himself.
The children prepared to leave the room quietly but Mum and Dad in unison asked “where do you think you two are going?”
The interrogation that followed would not have been out of place on a TV detective show. Both parents threw questions at their two children trying to elicit the truth.
Slowly it dawned on them that their children had only a small part to play in the devastation; there were greater forces at work here.
As tempers cooled Harry plucked up the courage to tell his story.
“Mum, Dad something very strange happened last night. I woke up and looked at my bedside clock. I don’t know what the real time was because the clock said it was 28 something.”
“What do you mean 28 something Harry? There are only 24 hours in the day!” Harry went as white as a sheet and went on. “I know that, of course, Dad, but that is what bothered me. So I came downstairs and went into the living room. I checked the TV and it also showed the time as something like 27 minutes past 28.
“But that was not the weirdest thing. There was a big fancy clock next to where the tree is and it had the strangest clock face.”
Harry explained the unusual hour numbering and drew a picture for his parents. Both George and Mary were quiet all the way through the explanation.
Harry went on to show them all the book and wand he had in his pocket. He let his father take the wand in his hand. Like Harry did, George dropped the wand having felt what he thought was a mild electric shock from it.
They all suddenly noticed that a further book had suddenly appeared on the coffee table.
Mary went over to the table. “I cleared this table just a few minutes ago, this is not possible.” She carefully picked up the book which looked exactly like the one Harry had just shown them. On the cover she read out loud the title ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation – Paret Finos’.
This event made it clear to the whole family that Harry’s special birthday and Christmas gift was far from what it had at first seemed.
“Mummy, I’m scared.”
“So am I Emily!” her mum said.
After a moments silence George suggested they all go upstairs and get themselves dressed and ready to set off to go Grandma’s for Christmas lunch as planned.
That is what exactly what they did and set off to see Grandma Baron within the hour.
They all sat in the Renault Modus more or less in silence for the first few miles. Mary was driving and George was clearly thinking about what had happened.
Almost out of habit Emily asked “Are we there yet?” This broke the ice and they all laughed. “You always ask that” said Harry.
George said “We have travelled for a quarter of an hour on a two hour journey. Do you think we could be there yet?”
“I wish we were there” said Harry. Harry started to play with the wand and thumbed through ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation – Paret Unus’. There on page 38 it was ‘to get to grandma’s quickly wave your wand and say Baronias Canon’s View’.
“Baronias Canon’s View.”
On the wave of his wand and having said the magic words he had just learned they found themselves parked outside of Grandma’s sheltered home at Canon’s View.
“What just happened?” George Baron’s words said it all.
They all got out of the car and went to the communal door and rang Grandma Baron’s intercom. The door clicked open and they went to Grandma’s first floor flat.
“What perfect timing.” Grandma greeted them all. Grandma Baron always says “even at my age I have my complete set of marbles.” Quite true, she never missed anything.
“What have you got there grandson?”
“It’s a book of magic grandma, and a magic wand. “I got ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation’ from Mum and Dad as a combined present for my birthday and Christmas.”
“What a wonderful gift. Have you managed any tricks yet?” Harry smiled and Mary laughed nervously.
“Now the turkey is in the oven and I made you a birthday cake to have at teatime Harry” grandma said. “The bird has got your favourite chestnut stuffing George and we are having honey roasted parsnips especially for you Harry. And for you Mary, your favourite old fashioned Christmas pudding. I know how much you like sweets Emily so I have made you a special chocolate button pudding.
“It will all be ready in about an hour.”
They all sat down in the living room. Harry and Emily were both thirsty from all the sweets they had eaten and they both wanted a drink. They wandered off to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
The oven was not switched on. Grandma had forgotten to switch it on. The food won’t be cooked.
“What shall do Harry?” asked Emily. Harry opened the second book ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation – Paret Finos’. There on page 17 it was ‘to get to grandma’s oven working and the turkey cooked wave your wand and say Baronias Roast Turkey.’
“Baronias Roast Turkey.”
And they saw that the oven was on and the beautiful smell of grandma’s roast turkey wafted from the kitchen into the living room.
The rest of Christmas day at grandma’s flat went without any more opportunity for Harry to perform more magic tricks. As they were saying goodbye to her, Grandma surprised everybody by giving Harry a further gift. ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation – Paret Granos’.
They set off for home and after a wave of his wand and a spell from page 83 of the third book they were safely home.
The rest of the Christmas holiday went well although the Baron family remained very alert to any more strange goings on.
It true to say, however, that Harry did perform more tricks. He soon discovered that if he woke up in the night the clocks would show strange times but if he just closed his eyes he would go back to sleep and wake up in the morning refreshed, and everything appeared to be back to normal.
Harry found that if there was a problem all he needed to do was open up one of the three books and he would find the spell to solve it. The garage door now worked without jamming and the dent in the car door had gone. And Mum really loved the new living room decor.
And soon it was back to school for Emily and Harry.
Harry’s friends Paul and Michael asked him about his holidays.
And so Harry told them about ‘The Masters Guide to Prestidigitation’. They did not believe him.
Michael summed it up succinctly. “Harry Baron thinks he is Harry Potter”.
And soon the message spread through the school and within minutes he was known as Potty Harry.
Oh, and his spells do not work anymore.
Copyright © Stuart Danton 2007