Despite the scenes being filmed in Oxford, you can't move for Harry Potter shops in Cambridge...Flickr / egorgrebnev

Despite none of the scenes being filmed in Cambridge (indeed, much of Harry Potter was filmed in the Other Place), it seems as though you can’t move for Potter shops in our city. So, with a new one taking centre stage in Market Square, Varsity’s Emily and Alice battle it out over whether we should embrace the tat shop, or reject it.

For: Emiy Lawson-Todd

It’s hard to make a case for the new Harry Potter shop at the side of the marketplace. Not least because I can’t stand Harry Potter, and if you, a grown adult in the year of 2023, still do, then all I have to say to you is: grow up and move on. Additionally, why the hell is there a Harry Potter shop here in the first place? Cambridge has absolutely no ties to the franchise other than stupid gowns and the fact that if you look at both in retrospect you discover some pretty dodgy stuff.

But within all of this, I can’t help but warm to the shop. Not because I want a Gryffindor scarf like some massive neek, but because it represents a weird, nostalgic, view of Cambridge. It’s the view of this silly little city where I live, eat, sleep, and throw up after one too many drinks in Sid bar (as is my God-given right) that often forms the first starry-eyed view you get of the city as a fresher. It, along with all the other naff tourist shops that clog up the city centre, reminds me that actually I do live in a pretty magical place.

“It reminds me that actually I do live in a pretty magical place”

I used to hate the preconception of Cambridge that people have prior to coming here of the gowns and the glamour, because my first term spent hungover and flu-riddled trying to figure out what Chaucer was on about felt anything but. And truthfully, this idealised view of Cambridge does often do more harm than good in many ways for widening participation and encouraging people from schools that don’t look like Hogwarts to apply. But sometimes, amidst all the chaos of term, it can be nice to reflect and think about why people love Cambridge so much. Yes, there’s an element of elitism to this love. But at the end of the day, I can’t deny that Cambridge is a really pretty city - and a far cry from the grey planes of my native Sheffield.

Two years into living in the heart of Cambridge and I am no better than the tourists that clog the Harry Potter shops. I shamelessly photograph King’s chapel every time I walk past it to my lectures, I take the long route to Sidge so I can gaze at the mathematical bridge, and sometimes I even gaze at the Corpus clock with almost-affection (let’s not get too carried away though, it’s still really ugly). As cringe as it is (and believe me - it is), the new shop brings me back to that same starry-eyed admiration I get for the city I’ve come to call home, even in my most essay-crisis-eque of times. You’re still a wrongun if you go in there though.

Against: Alice Mainwood

A first year spent living on West Road, right by Sidgewick site, was great in the first few weeks of term. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself as I rolled out of bed 5 minutes before my lectures started, especially in comparison to the poor souls who’d trekked from Homerton and Girton for a 9am about Chaucer’s longest and most painful reads. When the novelty of lectures wore off, however, and I found myself unfortunately rather snoozy at 8:55, my pre-lecture alarm was simply being ignored in favour of sleeping off last night’s trip to MASH. It’s not my finest moment (sorry they weren’t my finest moments - I won’t pretend it was a one-off). Living right next to Sidge left me feeling all the lazier, and all the more guilty for my lacklustre approach to my degree. Last year. I’m a reformed character nowadays.

“The new shop has apparently cast something of a spell on the tourists in town, leaving them entirely unable to walk at a normal speed”

So, opting to ballot for a room right in the centre of town felt like the best idea ever in May. Gone would be the days of wallowing guiltily as my lecture took place just a 2 minute walk away. Any missed lecture opportunities could now be attributed to the lecture theatre simply being too far away, especially for a sleepy second year before 9am. Never again would I have to trek a whole ten minutes from West Road, doing battle with a Kings’ porter to be allowed through, dodging countless tourists’ photos on the Kings’ backs bridge, and sneaking past their ‘members only’ signs to take the short-cut, just to get into town. I was better off being close to MASH and Pret than Sidge anyway, right?

Oh, how mistaken I was. My dream of a lifestyle far away from Sidge has been bitterly ruined by the new addition to Market Square. The new Harry Potter shop has apparently cast something of a spell on the tourists in town, leaving them entirely unable to walk at a normal speed, or move out of the way of students power-walking through town, on an emergency trip to Mainsbury’s.

On top of how angry I get about slow walkers, I feel a similar level of fury towards the Harry Potter x Cambridge crossover. If only I had magic on my side. But no, all I have is a big old stack of unread books and hopes and prayers for tomorrow’s supervision.