Aaron Matthews is NUPSA President, and a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.


The current time is 2:35am and I have just opened a new packet of Tim Tams. (Original, if you are wondering.) I am normally asleep by now, but my brain is not shutting off tonight. The regular thoughts of my thesis, of progress and concerns around NUPSA projects, and of the unprecedented COVID-19, are all pinballing around the corners of my mind.

For those who don’t know, COVID-19 is the global pandemic happening right now. You know, the thing that drove people to illogically hoard toilet paper and the reason you are probably working from home and isolating yourself as much as possible from society. Sound familiar?

One Tim Tam down.

How do you escape all these thoughts and worries, these stresses and pressures, when your home environment is now your work environment and there is so much uncertainty in the coming months? My solution has been to escape into my hobbies – or more specifically, into my fandoms.

Two Tim Tams down.

Knowing that life will be like this for the foreseeable future, I think it is important to have a hobby or fandom you can escape into. Something you can lose yourself in and not worry about anything else going on in life.

Three Tim Tams down.

I enjoy many fandoms: Pokémon, Nintendo, Star Wars, Disney and Pixar. My favourite fandom, though, is Harry Potter. I don’t think Harry Potter and the wizarding world need any introduction. Ever since I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I have been hooked.

I have multiple copies of the books, I listen to the Stephen Fry-narrated audio books regularly (they are amazing!), I can quote it way too much, I watch Harry Potter-related YouTube channels, I have a dangerous amount of Harry Potter LEGO and I attend as many Harry Potter trivia events around Newcastle as I can.

I have even run my own Harry Potter trivia.



Four Tim Tams down and counting.

My favourite novel in the series is easily Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It contains the magic of attending Hogwarts classes, the awkward teenage romance, the origin story of Tom Riddle, the fantastic Horace Slughorn and the introduction of the mysterious Horcruxes. It has a bit of everything that I enjoy about the Harry Potter story.

My favourite scenes are when Gryffindor wins the quidditch cup and Harry and Ginny have their first kiss (aww), Harry presents a bezoar in potions much to the amusement of Professor Slughorn, and Fleur confronts Mrs Weasley in the hospital wing after Bill is attacked by Fenrir Greyback.

Five Tim Tams down. I should put these away.



I could keep writing for hours about Harry Potter, so reach out if you want to chat more. I always enjoy hearing other people’s perspective on the story and what they enjoy most about it. There is a certain feeling of community and satisfaction when you dive deeper and deeper into your fandom. I don’t think that is too unlike a postgraduate degree.

So, arm yourself with a packet of Tim Tams, re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and tackle these questions (or dive into your own fandom)! Let me know your answers and I’ll let you know your score. Good luck!


  1. Dursley is the director of which firm?
  2. Who loaned Hagrid the flying motorbike?
  3. What high school was Harry going to go to?
  4. According to Harry’s Hogwarts letter, how many plain work robes (black) does he require?
  5. How much did Harry’s wand cost?
  6. What is the name of Neville’s toad?
  7. What house is Susan Bones sorted into?
  8. How many staircases are there at Hogwarts?
  9. What subject does Professor Binns teach?
  10. Where do you find a bezoar?
  11. What spell does Ron use to defeat the mountain troll during Halloween?
  12. Ron, Hermione, Neville, Seamus and Dean made a sign for Harry’s first quidditch match. What did it say?
  13. What present does Hagrid give Harry for Christmas?
  14. What does Dumbledore say he sees in the Mirror of Erised?
  15. Who referees Harry’s second quidditch match?
  16. What breed of dragon is Norbert?
  17. Which centaur saves Harry in the forest?
  18. Which teacher is responsible for the giant chess set helping protect the philosopher’s stone?
  19. What is the name of Nicholas Flamel’s wife?
  20. By how many house points did Gryffindor beat Slytherin?


I have put the Tim Tams away.

You know, my mind is much clearer after writing about all that. I’ll go to sleep now. I hope you have, or find, your escape. Stay safe everyone.

P.S. We at NUPSA are all concerned about your health and well-being over the coming months. Please reach out to us if you need help.

P.P.S. I hate Hagrid and I hate Dobby. I have my reasons.


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