Thursday 12 March 2015

Fairwell Terry Pratchett

Can't think what to say that isn't a cliché: such terribly sad news, we've lost a literary hero, he made the world a brighter place, he brought laughter to so many, he allowed us to laugh at ourselves, he was a brilliant, bright, beautiful human being who stood up for the dignity of others even as his own strength was failing.

All of the above.

I'm rather teary at the moment. 

We knew it was coming, but it's still sad, nevertheless.

Terry Pratchett was the first time I really decided to test my luck with authority (which I've been fighting ever since). I remember the teacher and the classroom, so I must have been about nine or ten. I used to visit my dad every second weekend in London, and one of our greatest pleasures was book shopping. Think it was still Dillons back then.

I was into Fighting Fantasy at the time, and I guess I must have been shambling about the Fantasy section when I saw the cover. It was a Discworld novel. I'm fairly sure it was The Light Fantastic, as it had a picture of a woman with huge boobs on the front. 

That's why I bought it. I wanted to take it to reading time at my primary school and 1) prove just how good I was at reading 2) from a book with a big-boobed woman on the front. I was also secretly hoping for some swear words, because you can swear if it's literature, right? That's allowed. 

I could read it, when I wasn't sneaking sidewards glances at my teacher to catch her expression, but I didn't fully understand it at that age.

All the same, I came to love the cover art of Discworld, and when I was eventually old enough, I devoured most of them. My favourite being Equal Rites. It again appealed to my sense of challenging the established status quo, that a girl could do anything a boy could, and often better.

Close behind that were the stories with Death. HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE HIM? (he whispered). Mort, Soul Music... every time you saw those capital letters, you knew you were in for a special treat. 

I was so privileged to get to hear him speak at Cheltenham Literature Festival back in 2012. One of those people you're really glad to have shared the same lifetime as. Defined an age, at the same time ageless.

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.
- Terry Pratchett in quotes

I shall be raising a wee dram to him before beddy byes, as he rides off on Binky to that great writer's room in the sky.

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