Terence Blacker: A frightening new cult is sweeping the country

Its followers dance through city streets in school uniforms, chanting 'Hari Pata, Hari Hari, Pata Pata'
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The Independent Online

Of all these same-but-different stories, one of the most reliable is the outbreak of what is now technically known as "Pottermania", a hysteria which sweeps Britain and America on the publication of a new children's story by JK Rowling.

To save readers time over the coming week, here are just a few of the stories which, almost inevitably, will be appearing.

SEX-MAD HOLIDAYMAKERS ARE "POTTING IT ABOUT"!

Randy Romeos on the love island of Ibiza have hit on a new way of bedding fun-loving girls on their holidays - they read them a book! The lads' saucy secret was unveiled this week by holiday rep Kevin Little, who revealed that he never goes clubbing without a copy of the new Harry Potter. "When I see a girl I fancy, I just say, 'Wanna find out who dies in the new Potter?'" says Kevin, 21. "We go back to my flat for a quick read and, before you can say 'Hogwarts', we're romping stark naked in my bed. It's true what they say - Potter is magic!"

POTTER CULT "ESSENTIALLY CHRISTIAN", CLAIMS ARCHBISHOP

Dr Rowan Williams is facing a storm of controversy today after refusing to condemn Britain's newest religious cult, the Church of Hari Pata. The movement, whose followers dance through city streets in school uniforms, chanting "Hari Pata, Hari Pata, Hari Hari, Pata Pata," collects money to enable its adepts to write children's books. The Archbishop claimed that "God is good, good is God and, at the end of the day, everyone is part of the same sort of spirituo-metaphysical continuum, even Muggles."

AUSSIES STUMPED BY HARRY

Australian captain Ricky Ponting stunned the cricket world yesterday when he admitted that he got himself caught during this week's Test match - so he could read a book. "Look, I'm as competitive as the next guy," Ponting told a press conference after his team had crashed to an innings defeat. "But I just had to get to back to the dressing-room in order to find out what happens to Harry, so I nicked the ball to first slip and got caught."

TITMUSS REVEALS ALL IN HOTTER POTTER SHOCKER

Britain's raunchiest celebrity, Abi Titmuss, had disappointing news today for her legion of male admirers. She will not be getting it on with anyone until she has read the new Harry Potter. "Right now, men don't turn me on at all," confessed always-at-it Abi. "The only guy I want between the sheets is Harry. He's literally hotter than all the guys I've bedded, and most of the women."

IS THIS HARRY? CURTAIN CAUSES "NEW TURIN SHROUD" MYSTERY

When Shipton-on-Stour housewife Linda Kirby took some old net curtains from her garage, she was in for a shock. There, formed by mould, was a perfect likeness of JK Rowling's Harry Potter. Last night, as the town's streets thronged with sightseers, Linda vowed to auction the haunted curtain in order to raise money for Make Poverty History.

BLOOMSBURY "RUINED" BY POTTER, SAYS MD

Even allowing for the nostalgic nature of publishing, it was an extraordinary confession. Speaking to a Society of Bookmen dinner, the boss of Britain's most successful publisher, Bloomsbury, said his firm's golden age was back when it published agreeable novels with iffy sales, and biographies hardly anyone noticed. "They kept their faces clean, those books, without rocking the boat finance-wise," said Nigel Newton, his voice cracking with emotion. "Now we spend our lives talking to people in the City. We're rich, but are we happy? Sometimes I wish I could find some of those authors - knackered, battered but kind of human - to bring the fun and laughter back to our business."

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