All the big broom makers, and a surprising number of small ones, came together last week for the annual Hogsmeade Broom Show. Both pristine, classic models and next year’s hottest new designs were unveiled. Cleansweeps, Oakshafts, Nimbus, Firebolt—all were out in force. The historic Tingletoe Dance Hall and the adjacent Circled Square were stunned by the heat and congestion of the dealers, saleswizards, buyers, and just-plain-gawkers who came from as far away as Dijon and Göteborg.
But in a little-frequented courtyard behind the Mad Hatter Inn was a very special part of the Broom Show that draws only a few, very dedicated enthusiasts every year. In that comparative stillness, one could get a once-only peek at this year’s most daring designs, destined never to be produced for the retail market. Among the rejected prototypes, specially-commissioned one-of-a-kinds, and just-for-larks oddities, this correspondent discovered some "concept brooms" whose time may have come:
THE “EAT-MY-LINT” IN-LINE CLOTHES-BRUSHES from the makers of the Shooting Star – Rather like having miniature brooms strapped to your feet, the “Eat-My-Lint” experience is a thrill-ride and a fitness craze wrapped up in a shoebox. It takes a bit of grace and poise to stay upright with these little wonders racing along under you. Not recommended for wizards with a history of pulled groins, it comes with an optional “Sta-Uprite” helmet, impact-repellant knee and elbow pads, and the most comfortable one-size-fits-all spell since Mrs. Shrubsole’s Murtlap-Frond Slippers. I may not be much at divination, but I foresee a big market for signs permitting “No In-Line Clothes-Brushes On Premises.”
THE “LOVERS’ LEAP” TANDEM BROOM from Bristledown & Co. – one bundle of twigs, attached at the end of a forked broomstick. This model is perfect for the couple that can’t stand to be separated even for a moment. Perhaps wisely, it is available only on terms of a thirty-day lease. What puts the Lovers’ Leap shaft and tip above earlier tandem models is the special protocol of steering charms that only allows liftoff after both riders have agreed on who gets to steer. This can only be overridden in the event of an emergency (though the salesman wasn’t quite clear about what ratio of “pulse increase” to “resistance to anti-accident charms” constitutes an emergency). This should solve the problem one still occasionally sees with tandem brooms juddering from side to side under the force of its riders’ conflicting wills. On the other hand, one can also ride this model solo. With the optional picnic blanket that can be stretched across the gap between the twin shafts, one can even recline comfortably while the Lovers’ Leap purrs through the air.
THE “SUK-E-LUX 26” FAUX-ECLECTIC SKY SWEEPER from Noover & Yorick – ideal for the Muggle-artifact enthusiast in everyone’s family, not to mention the “plus size” specimen who can cause even the stoutest cushioning charm to go flat. Available in standard and bagless models, the Suk-E-Lux 26 trades in the usual unidirectional twigs for a rotating spiral of short bristles and a roaring jet of compressed air. The seat gracefully accomodates the widest bottom, and the model with the bag provides a very embraceable cushion for the timid wizard or witch who are simply too nervous to entrust themselves to invisible forcefields. The cleverest feature is a coil of rubberized cable which acts as a mana collector, constantly recharging those noisy rotors. Plus, in a pinch it can be uncoiled and used to lasso wild hippogriffs and the like. Tally-ho and so on. The only drawback is that the mana collectors only work effectively within a few miles of a concentration of wizardly activity; beyond that radius, a sudden and disastrous loss of power can result.
THE “SQUEAK STREAK 8” from Wet Wipe Enterprises of Bermuda (still a center of concentrated wizarding manufacture, as it has been since a British royal wizard’s fabled exile there in the ninth century) – the latest in a long line of improvements on their original model, which was better known by its popular epithet, the “Crash Splash 0.” This time it really seems those Bermudan wizards have done it, producing a flying window-scrubber with a long enough range to cross the Atlantic non-stop. Attempts to get across the South Pacific are still not recommended, though the sponge side of the scrubber head does inflate into a very luxurious and well-stocked liferaft. It’s the squeegee side that is likely to cause thrills and spills, as it cuts through moisture so efficiently that it can literally slice a cloud in half. As long as you keep wringing out the sponge side, you shouldn’t have the problem that caused the Squeak Streak 6 to be recalled, though the manufacturers have thoughtfully included a Last Will and Testament in the registration form.
THE “SHIVER SLIVER 1,” also from Wet Wipe Enterprises – an attempt to branch out in an unexpected new direction. For wizards who regularly need to fly over a polar ice-cap, here is a long-handled ice scraper / snow-brush that slices right through snow, sleet, freezing rain, and bone-chilling haze. While the wintery elements do their tree-snapping, icy worst, the rider snuggles inside a cozy envelope of warmth that, amazingly, does not thaw any of its surroundings. The hollow shaft pulls apart and snaps back together in different configurations, including a shovel attachment (for flying in extra-heavy snow) and a silver ice-pick with a Yeti-nose-hair core (for performing spells at temperatures below ideal specifications for a regular wand). However, it is already clear that the Shiver Sliver will have to go through several more models before it is quite ready for northern exposure. Clearly, the Bermudan wizards did not anticipate everything that an Arctic or Antarctic flyover might involve. For example, the beverage spout produces iced pumpkin juice, but NOT hot chocolate. I suggest waiting till at least Shiver Sliver 5 before buying!
And finally...THE “GOLDEN SHEAVES” SKY RAKE from Bambi Greene & Sons’ Wizarding Agricultural Applications – a small but growing firm now producing a line of products that are only sold to wizarding farmers whose lands are still surrounded by concealing hedges. By taking low passes over a field (with the proper attachment on the brush end), this sky rake can plough, cultivate, sow, de-pest, harvest, and even clean and separate most crops – though cereals are clearly a specialty. From the people who created the first waterless, windless, self-turning mill-wheel; the self-picking, ripe-berries-only bucket; and the cream-separating, butter-churning, cheese-curing dairy bucket, comes this amazing new flying farm implement that will save a vast number of costly “straight from the stalk to the barn” spells, while also giving young farm-wizards an outlet for the passion for intense boredom that afflicts many wizards at a certain awkward age. After a few passes over the Back 40 on the Golden Sheaves, they’ll never say, “I want to grow up to be a Muggle” again!
If you happen to be in the Hogsmeade area at Broom Show time next year, don’t miss this exhibit of broom novelties. Rumor has it that the Firebolt people are working on a no-bristle concept for next year’s show. Not to be outdone, the Nimbus folks are said to be planning a non-stick entry! Who wouldn’t like to see that?
Bo Dwyer lives in Dorset with his wife Harriet and a collection of vintage brooms. He is a senior correspondent for Broomstick and Wand, and the author of several books, including Why I Never Leave Home Without Spell-O-Tape.[Originally posted 10/30/05]