I was raised in a small town called Dursley that sits in the Cotswolds surrounded by some pretty stunning scenery. The town itself is a small market town that has seen it’s glory days long passed but that does not change the fact it was my home for many years and a big part of me still loves it.
Dursley has a rich history (which I will get to later) and like I said sits in one of the most beautiful places in the UK, so what it does not deserve is to be remembered as the name of the nasty relatives of Harry Potter.
I don’t think I would mind so much if it wasn’t for the reason she named them The Dursleys, which was apparently because she drove past Dursley once and didn’t like it. Really? you drove past a town* and based your whole opinion of it on that? Seems a little harsh to me. Now I drive past Yate** all the time and even though it looks like a giant housing estate I haven’t passed judgment on it, because unlike Ms Rowling I am a fair man.
Anyway, you might think I am basing my defense of the town simply because I grew up there so lets take a look at some historical facts about Durlsey:
The Perderen bicycle was invented there. (Some say the basis for the modern cycle.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedersen_bicycle
Edward Jenner – the man who invented vaccination, the foundation of all modern medicine lived in Berkeley (just outside Dursley).
There is an Iron age fort in the town dating to 300BC.
Lister Petter, who make a the diesel generators that most of the developing world relies on is still based in Dursley (although only just).
Madonna bought a house there and then changed her mind***
Rosemary West, the UK’s biggest Serial Killer was tried there****
Now I think the man who basically invented modern medicine is a bit more important than a secondary character in a book but sadly he will be forgotten by all except medical students. Where as Harry Potter will probably live forever.
But Ken, I hear you say, Dursley is a small town in the middle of
nowhere why do we care? Well ask yourself this, if it was London, Paris,
or New York getting the shaft in this way there would be an out cry,
people would be protesting in the streets. But no one cares about a
little town in the middle of nowhere.
And that’s kind of sad.
Our home towns (for better or worse) are part of who we are. We grew up there, we played there, we built secret bases in the woods, we loved and lost there. The represent a big part of who we become.
So forgive me if I big up my town a little more than perhaps I should, or I get offended that it’s now more remembered for being a name in a fantasy story than an actual place.
When you grow up with views like this, it’s hard not to love a place….
*Which by the way would mean all she would have seen is part of the A38 and a sign for Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust. Nothing of the town itself is visable from the main road.
** Her home town
*** Ok I’m reaching a bit with that one.
**** Alright I’m really streching it now.
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