The most shared news story worldwide for the past 48 hours has been about the magic wand shop in the beautiful village of Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield. It won’t sell wands to Muggles.
In JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and movies, Muggles are people who just don’t have the magic. They are not witches or wizards; they’re not even house elves.
And Slaithwaite, although it is one of the jewels in West Yorkshire’s crown, is not widely known outside the British Isles – even in magic circles. What brought Slaithwaite’s magic wands to the world’s attention was Richard Carter, the proprietor of the magic wand shop, called Mystic Moments.
He declared to an inquiring journalist that he would not sell any of his lovingly hand-made wands to Harry Potter fans, because they don’t really believe in magic. Wands are “spiritual tools”, Carter said. “If I had someone come in wanting a wand just because they liked Harry Potter, I would not sell them one, not matter how much money they were offering. I can tell what people are like when they walk in by their aura.”
“You wouldn’t believe how many real witches and wizards there are knocking about,” the wand-maker said. “You would be amazed.” Cynics are suggesting Carter wants lots of publicity.
Rowling herself came to the defence of her young readers, tweeting: “Oh, yeah? Well, I don’t think they’re real wands.”
But they are real, or as real as Carter can make them. He does believe that they work – in the right hands. If you secretly believe in magic, it would certainly be worth giving one of Carter’s wands a try, especially as they only cost $25-$40 each.
Which would explain why several foreign-looking gentlemen have recently been seen on Britannia Road in Slaithwaite. One of them was Chinese. Not that Chinese visitors are all that rare in Slaithwaite – but most of them don’t come in long black limo with embassy plates.
This gentleman parked around the corner, lurked in the shadows until Mystic Moments opened, dodged in, spent about twenty minutes in the shop, emerged with a brown-paper parcel under his arm, and sped away.
Speculation was rife in the Silent Woman public house later in the day that the visitor had been sent by the Chinese government to get a magic wand for President Xi Jinping.
Harold Crossley, the reigning geopolitical expert in the saloon bar, opined that Xi is in deep trouble because he keeps insisting that the Chinese economy is in good shape when it is actually near collapse. A magic wand is obviously his last chance.
Later in the day a car from the Turkish embassy drew up and a diplomat walked into the shop bold as brass. But he came out crest-fallen and empty-handed. Harold reckons Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to put a hex on rival Fethullah Gülen, but Carter doesn’t let his wands be used for black magic.
The most intriguing visitor, though, was an American gentleman. Nobody knew who he was. The mystery was only solved when the well-travelled landlady of the Shoulder of Mutton spotted him: “That’s Donald Trump’s campaign chair,” she said.
Everybody was shocked that Carter would let a man like Trump have a magic wand. But Carter is subtler than that.
The new CEO of Trump’s campaign is Stephen Bannon, from the right-wing website Breitbart News, a man who was once described by the website’s editor as “Trump’s personal Pravda.” So it looks as if Trump’s magic wand didn’t work after all.