M r and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were
proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank
you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be
involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just
didn’t hold with such nonsense.
Mr Dursley was the director of a fi rm called Grunnings,
which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly
any neck, although he did have a very large moustache.
Mrs Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the
usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent
so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the
neighbours. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and
in their opinion there was no fi ner boy anywhere.
The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also
had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would
discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone
found out about the Potters. Mrs Potter was Mrs Dursley’s on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn’t a map in sight.
What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a
trick of the light. Mr Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It
stared back. As Mr Dursley drove around the corner and up
the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading
the sign that said Privet Drive – no, looking at the sign; cats
couldn’t read maps or signs. Mr Dursley gave himself a little
shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove towards
town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he
was hoping to get that day.
But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind
by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffi c jam, he
couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely
dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr Dursley couldn’t
bear people who dressed in funny clothes – the get- ups you saw
on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new
fashion. He drummed his fi ngers on the steering wheel and his
eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdos standing quite close by.
They were whispering excitedly together. Mr Dursley was
enraged to see that a couple of them weren’t young at all; why,
that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emeraldgreen cloak! The nerve of him! But then it struck Mr Dursley
that this was probably some silly stunt – these people were
obviously collecting for something … yes, that would be it.
The traffi c moved on, and a few minutes later, Mr Dursley
arrived in the Grunnings car park, his mind back on drills.
Mr Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his
offi ce on the ninth fl oor. If he hadn’t, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn’t see the
owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in
the street did; they pointed and gazed open- mouthed as owl
after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl
even at night- time. Mr Dursley, however, had a perfectly
normal, owl- free morning. He yelled at fi ve different people.
He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit
more. He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he
thought he’d stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy
himself a bun from the baker’s opposite.
He’d forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he
passed a group of them next to the baker’s. He eyed them
angrily as he passed. He didn’t know why, but they made him
uneasy. This lot were whispering excitedly, too, and he
couldn’t see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past
them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a
few words of what they were saying.
‘ The Potters, that’s right, that’s what I heard –’
‘– yes, their son, Harry –’
Mr Dursley stopped dead. Fear fl ooded him. He looked
back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to
them, but thought better of it.
He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his offi ce,
snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his
telephone and had almost fi nished dialling his home number
when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down
and stroked his moustache, thinking … no, he was being
stupid. Potter wasn’t such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry.
Come to think of it, he wasn’t even sure his nephew was called
Harry. He’d never even seen the boy. It might have been
Harvey. Or Harold. There was no point in worrying Mrs
Dursley, she always got so upset at any mention of her sister.
He didn’t blame her – if he’d had a sister like that … but all the
same, those people in cloaks …
He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that
afternoon, and when he left the building at fi ve o’clock, he
was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just
outside the door.
‘Sorry,’ he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and
almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr Dursley realised
that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn’t seem at all
upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary,
his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice
that made passers- by stare: ‘Don’t be sorry, my dear sir, for
nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who
has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be
celebrating, this happy, happy day!’
And the old man hugged Mr Dursley around the middle
and walked off.
Mr Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged
by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a
Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his
car and set off home, hoping he was imagining things, which
he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of