x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

And Another Thing: Life after the Deathly Hallows

The next phase for the Harry Potter stars, a convincing rewrite, suffering for fashion, and how not to be uncool.

From left to right, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
From left to right, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The final chapter and new beginnings

It's the end of the line for the Harry Potter gang as the director calls a wrap on the final scenes and the three young stars, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, start thinking about the rest of their lives.

They've spent most of the past 10 years in a vast sprawling studio in north London making the movies that have turned them into multi-millionaires and as it all comes to an end, they have had a chance to reflect on their very unusual childhood years.

It's hard to question the motivation of their respective parents when Radcliffe has £40 million (Dh236m) tucked away in his bank account as a result of his starring role as Potter; Watson has banked about £22 million; and Grint £20 million. So critics who talk about "stolen childhood" are probably wide of the mark.

Yet the success of the three youngsters has probably spawned a new generation of movie wannabees who are packed off to stage school and dance classes at the weekends in the hope that they'll be the next big thing. The bitter truth is that most of them won't.

In fact, the three have had amazing childhoods, with schooling in a special classroom on set where they were watched over by child psychologists and an army of kindly adults who overdosed them with affection, making it easy to forget that Watson still hadn't reached double figures when she took on the role of Hermione.

She is now a poised and beautiful young woman of 20 who is studying at the prestigious Brown University on Rhode Island in the US, and is able to take time to make life decisions for herself. Shrewdly, she has already invested in a ski chalet in Meribel, France, and a £3m house in north London. She has also added to her fortune by becoming the face of Burberry.

When she reached 18, her father sat her down to talk about the money she had made from the Harry Potter films. It made her feel "sick and emotional", as until then she was living on a weekly allowance of £50.

Interestingly, while the parents of Radcliffe and Grint gave up their jobs to be with their children on set, Watson's parent did not, preferring to continue with their own careers. It certainly made their daughter very independent. Many would question the idea of sending a nine-year-old off to live with a group of strangers for years, but then the British upper classes have been doing that for years. It was probably no more difficult than boarding school.

None of the three seems to have suffered psychologically from the experience and doors have opened for them that would never in a million years have opened had they not taken on the roles. Now they are financially secure and can do exactly what they please.

The choices they make from now on will be as fascinating as the ones their parents made for them more than 10 years ago.

They will also know that every step they make will be examined, and no matter what they do, they will never escape the Harry Potter tag. Hopefully, they will never live to regret being part of a fantastic and fantastical journey.

Author rewrites an earlier gesture

Canadian author Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors and I liked her even more after she had the courage to admit she was wrong to pull out of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature two years ago. She was caught up in the row over a book by a barely known British author called Geraldine Bedell who alleged that her novel The Gulf Between Us had been banned. Atwood later discovered that Bedell had never been invited in the first place. I shall be in the front row at next year's festival.

Fashion's high price

The Jimmy Choo retail queen Tamara Mellon is to become a trade envoy for Britain with a brief to travel the world promoting the country's fashion industry. I hope she takes a pair of comfortable shoes with her. I bought my first pair of Jimmy Choos last year, ridiculously expensive and absolutely beautiful but every time I wear them I feel like the little mermaid in the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale - every step feels like I'm walking on sharp swords. It's a price I'm increasingly unwilling to pay for the sake of fashion.

Generation gaps strike even the legendary cool

It comes to us all in the end as parents, that worrying feeling that you are being deeply uncool trying to get down with the kids, but who would have thought it would come to the king of cool himself, Mick Jagger?

Old rubber lips is apparently just as embarrassing to his 18-year-old daughter Georgia May as the dad who does his very best John Travolta impression at his daughter's birthday party. You know the scene - he's out there on the dance floor thinking he's Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever while the kids cower in a corner watching through their fingers.

Georgia says her dad is "daggy", a new expression to me but then that sort of proves the point. Apparently it's Australian slang for uncool and out of touch - and my colleagues tell me it's been around for years.

Young Georgia is not impressed by her father's trademark stage strutting, which she also finds "cringe-making". "I don't know how to describe his moves but let's just say he doesn't go unnoticed, you know what I mean," she says.

Yes, Georgia, we know what you mean and it might be worth remembering that those very moves gave you a lifestyle that some people only dream about, even if they do give you nightmares.

Mother-in-law in training

Soon to be a mother-in-law myself, I'm reading up avidly on the "dos and don'ts". Parenting website gurgle.com lists the main mother-in-law offences, and top of the list is interfering in day-to-day life. Top five gripes also include turning up uninvited and spoiling the grandchildren. Last week, my future son-in-law told my daughter that she was "just like Philippa" during a minor difference of opinion. I don't think it was a compliment.