Could do with some of those letters


Senior Member
Hi, everybody,

I came across the sentence when I read the novel HARRY POTTER.

Harry Potter received a lot of letters from Hogwarts, but his uncle didn't want him to read them.
So, they drove away , and came to a huge rock way out at sea.

Uncle Vernon's rations turned out to be a bag of chips each and four bananas. He tried to start a fire but the empty chip bags just smoked and shriveled up.
Could do with some of those letters now, eh?” he said cheerfully.
He was in a very good mood. Obviously he thought nobody stood a chance of reaching them here in a storm to deliver mail. Harry privately agreed, though the thought didn't cheer him up at all.
What is the meaning of "Could do with some of those letters now"?
Does it mean Uncle Vernon wants to start a fire by using those letters? I'm not sure.
Please help me. Thank you!
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    Does it mean Uncle Vernon wants to start a fire using those letters? Yes, that is how I understand it.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    I see it, on the basis of the given context, rather differently. Uncle Vernon is speaking cheerfully: trying to cheer Harry up, I presume. The fact that he thought no mail could reach them means he recognises it is impossible to use letters to fuel the fire.

    That means he is not really suggesting using letters for that purpose. He is making a tongue-in-cheek joke about that suggestion, but its real point is simply to underline that there is no prospect of mail arriving.

    Because there is no chance of that, it is safe to make the joke. It seems to say, 'That is the sort of thing I would do if I were a nasty uncle, but really I'm not'. I would expect the subsequent story to confirm that Uncle Vernon is not actually a letter-destroyer.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    I understand it the same way as Paul.

    (Uncle Vernon is decidedly a "nasty uncle" rather than a "nice uncle", wandle;).)


    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    It would be completely out of character for Uncle Vernon to want to cheer Harry up. I agree that he is cheerful because he feels he has been successful in escaping the reaches of magic, but to me his comment means "Those letters that drove me to flee my home have no power now; I would treat them as something to start a fire with if I had them now."

    Nothing in the following story, or any of the succeeding stories, redeems Uncle Vernon's character.
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