Sir Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)
Alongside legions of other fans, Thursday, and the passing away of Terry Pratchett, was a very sad day for me. Online, the outpouring of emotion was only to be expected, but the genuine grief less so, especially my own, though it shouldn't be so surprising given how many peoples lives were touched by his books, his brilliant, brilliant books.
Compared to a lot of people I came late to Pratchett's work. My first was Hogfather, a random Christmas present from someone who remembered that I "..read books with goblins and fairies and all that". Truth be told they probably saw the cover in Smiths or somewhere and picked it up with barely a thought, but in retrospect, I ought to go and thank them, because that hurriedly bought gift opened up a world so rich and full and funny and touching and clever and irreverant, that I did something I had never done before and have not done since; I immediately bought and devoured everything I could find by him - a habit that has continued for almost 20 years.
I didn't know him, couldn't pretend to, but I was lucky enough through my association with SCI-FI-LONDON to meet him a few times. He was always polite and patient, smiled and made a quip or two, and while he probably couldn't have picked me out of a line-up afterwards, his efforts made my day special and that's the over whelming feeling I get from most people. That no matter how brief your time with him was, whether at a convention, at a book signing, or quite by chance, he left you feeling better than before, and that's a rare thing.
When the news broke, in a brief tweet from his account, I was stunned. It didn't seem it could be true. He was fighting early-onset Alzheimer's disease, everyone knew it, but that was the thing, he was fighting it, loudly and publicy, famously saying he would "..eat his way through a badger's arse" if it would cure him of this 'embuggerance'. But 8 years is a long time to keep fighting something so debilitating and on 12th March , death came for him.
In typically Pratchett style his twitter account said...
I spent some time on the web over the last couple of days reading tributes, quotes, anecdotes and rememberances, but after tearing up once too often I had to stop. I wanted to write something right away, I wanted to join in, to let people know that I too felt the sorrow and heartache and loss but I didn't and I'm glad I didn't. A little time, a little perspective showed me that it's not the man I mourn so much - after all, like I said, I didn't know him - and I still have his legacy of 70 books to return to when I need to laugh out loud. No it's the 20 or 30 books he didn't get to write, that I will never get to read, that I mourn for, that's the real shame of his passing.
So now I shall do what did on Thursday. Turn off my computer, pour a large glass of red wine, retire to the big comfy armchair in my library, and read a book. A book about a flat, disk-shaped world, held aloft by four elephants balanced on the back of a giant turtle called Great A'Tuin...
I think that's what he would have wanted.