By Lindsay Robertson, aged 26 + 1/2 It's always been fashionable to give the Harry Potter series a good slagging, hasn't it? The franchise is an easy target for two reasons: 1) Despite the legions of fans of all ages this is still a story about kids and 2)it's popular. Heaven forbid we should be seen jumping on the bandwagon, people will think we have no minds of our own. It'll look far more edgy and therefore cool to stand on the sidelines and mock all those who've gained hours of adventure and entertainment. Sad twats. Yes, there will always be a few borderline obsessive fanboys and girls clad in wizard cloaks at book signings but the majority of Harry Potter fans are just people who love a good story and who were probably surprised to see how intricate the plot became throughout the series. They like the characters and no doubt have a handful of favourites rather than just one or two. There are mythical creatures, exotic settings and I'm sure every fan has a spell or two they just wish they could cast in real life. I'm not saying that the series is beyond criticism or that everyone should conform and go buy the books, but to those who hate Harry Potter for the sake of hating I say, who are you to ridicule when it has brought so much happiness to so many people? My name is Lindsay and I'm a young professional in a long term relationship currently living in London. And I love Harry Potter. Initially I wasn't interested in the books or the first film when it was released. Being an avid reader and movie goer I just didn't see what made this particular series stand out, not that it bothered me. So that was that, until the night I finally decided to give one of the books a try. It was an odd sort of scenario. I was in the day room of a hospital ward with my younger sister where we had ended up staying for the best part of several days. Our Gran was dying and we knew it could happen at any time. The wait was agonising, I couldn't sleep and the trips back and forth from the vending machines had long lost their appeal. I needed something to distract me and all I had to read were a pile of Hello magazines and a Harry Potter book. I opted for the latter. The book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire turned out to be a thoroughly good read and I was instantly captivated by the fully realised magical world. It was exactly the kind of escape I needed at the time and I proceeded to immerse myself in the story until I had read it from cover to cover. For a few hours I was free from the stark, cold atmosphere of the hospital ward and the pain of being on the verge of losing a dearly loved member of my family. I knew that this was powerful story telling indeed. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince A few weeks later I was in and out of the local children's library finding the other books. I also watched the first film on video having missed seeing it in the cinema and found it to be an excellent adaptation. These were much more than tales about a wizard school, these were centered around themes of courage, loyalty and integrity. As an adult reader the story served a dual role; first as a coming-of-age tale and secondly as a sign that I was still being true to the child in me (many a time I wished I'd had these books in my childhood). The much-discussed 'dark elements' of Harry Potter spoke volumes to me, not to prove 'it's not just for little kids' to justify a woman in her twenties standing in queue to buy Deathly Hallows. To me, they consisted of cleverly written characters and plotlines that symbolised the dark side of life. In particular, the diary of Tom Riddle - an older, male figure slowly corrupting and manipulating a young girl for his own ends. And the Dementors - shadowy beings who destroy their victims by forcing them to relive their most terrible memories. In their presence a person will feel cold and numb like they will never be cheerful again, described very much like depression. Heavy as these themes are, the narrative conveys them in a manner that a child can understand without difficulty. Equally, the ongoing struggles the central characters go through with their personal dilemmas and responsiblities are ones that readers of any age can relate to. Harry and his friends deal with heavy burdens and tragic losses but still they persevere, staying true to themselves and each other. Call me old fashioned but it's still comforting to see good triumph over evil and injustice, even in a fictional world. My friends and I went to see the latest release Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Sure, we had a few giggles with the odd line or too (in the wrong context many of these can be read as 'paedo no-nos') but we all were excited at seeing this great story brought to life and I'm not ashamed to admit we all shed a small tear for poor old Dumbledore. A great night was had by all, including the rest of the audience in which I didn't see a single child. It wasn't just about the film itself but about getting caught up in the buzz in the build up to its cinematic release. We shouldn't be made to feel guilty by a bunch of embitterred spoilsports just for getting engrossed in a great story and having a bit of excitement in our bloody lives. Neither, I might add, should they simply dismiss a phenomenom that's seen hoards of children the world over encouraged to pick up a book. With so much negativity, they definitely belong in Slytherin.