Ron Weasley, who was one of Harry’s best friends at Hogwarts, came from a whole family of Wizards. This meant that he knew a lot of things Harry didn’t, but had never used a telephone before. Most unluckily, it had been uncle Vernon who had answered the call.
‘Vernon Dursley speaking.’
Harry, who happened to be in the room at the time, froze as he heard Ron’s voice answer.
‘HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I—WANT—TO—TALK—TO—HARRY—POTTER!’
Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon jumped and held the receiver a foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expression of mingled fury and alarm.
‘WHO IS THIS?’ He roared in the direction of the mouthpiece. ‘WHO ARE YOU? ‘
‘RON—WEASLEY!’ Ron bellowed back, as though he and Uncle Vernon were speaking from the opposite ends of a football pitch. ‘I’M—A—FRIEND—OF—HARRY’S—FROM—SCHOOL—’
Uncle Vernon’s small eyes swivelled around to Harry, who was rooted to the spot.
‘THERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE!’ he roared, now holding the receiver at arm’s length, as though frightened it might explode. ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT SCHOOL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN! DON’T YOU COME NEAR MY FAMILY!’
And he threw the receiver back onto the telephone as if dropping a poisonous spider.
The row that had followed had been one of the worst ever.
‘HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE THIS—PEOPLE LIKE YOU!’ Uncle Vernon had roared, spraying Harry with spit.
Ron obviously realised that he’d got Harry into trouble, because he hadn’t called again. Harry’s other best friend from Hogwarts, Hermione Granger, hadn’t been in touch either. Harry suspected that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was a pity, because Hermione, the cleverest witch in Harry’s year, had Muggle parents, knew perfectly well how to use a telephone, and would probably have had enough sense not to say that she went to Hogwarts.
In this extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the telephone reveals some of the differences between the Muggles and the Wizards. Ron has never used a ‘fellytone’ before and his first conversation, with the awful Uncle Vernon, is both funny but, also, potentially troublesome for Harry, further showing how out of place he is with his Muggle relatives.
by Eve Collins