"The Department of Magical Transportation had to fine a couple of people the other day for Apparating without a license. It's not easy, Apparition, and when it's not done property it can lead to nasty complications. This pair I'm talking about went and splinched themselves."

Everyone around the table except Harry winced.

"Er - splinched?" said Harry.

"They left half of themselves behind," said Mr. Weasley, now spooning large amounts of treacle onto his porridge. "So, of course, they were stuck. Couldn't move either way. Had to wait for the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to sort them out. Meant a fair old bit of paperwork, I can tell you, what with the Muggles who spotted the body parts they'd left behind....."

Harry had a sudden vision of a pair of legs and an eyeball lying abandoned on the pavement of Privet Drive.

I don't understand "Meant a fair old bit of paperwork". It looks elliptical (maybe sort of inversion) and it doesn't specify what kind of paperwork it was. How should we understand it?

1 Answer 1


"A fair bit of" is a British expression meaning "quite a lot of". Longman Dictionary has some examples.

They'd have a fair bit of tidying up to do before they left.

The insertion of "old" is just a stylistic choice that makes the speech of the character unique and individual. The sentence omits "That".

[That] meant a fair old bit of paperwork.

So the fact that they, whoever they are, were stuck and couldn't move either way meant they needed to do some paperwork before or after (most likely after) they sought help from the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad.

  • Thanks! That explained it well. Another thing is how we should understand this part: "what with the Muggles who spotted the body parts they'd left behind". I think "what with" here means "because of". Is that right?
    – dan
    Dec 6, 2018 at 2:03
  • 1
    Yes, Dan, "because of" is a close approximation of the meaning. Dec 6, 2018 at 2:09
  • 1
    That part of the sentence explains why quite a bit paperwork was needed. There's a couple ways to reword the sentence. As Ross Murray has confirmed, "because of" is one of the ways you can reword the sentence.
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 6, 2018 at 2:11

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