Discworld Monthly Issue 214 March 2015
Table of Contents:
3. Readers' Letters
5. Tributes: Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015
6. Competition: Win Thief of Time in Welsh
7. Terry Pratchett: In my words
8. The End
Welcome to issue 214. It's been nearly a week since we reported the sad news that Sir Terry Pratchett had passed away. We now know that he died peacefully at home in his bed surrounded by his family and with his cat on his bed.
It's been a surreal week and I've yet to find the time to sit and fully comprehend what has happened. Our condolences are with Terry's family, with those that knew him well and to everyone else that knew Terry through his wonderful novels.
Terry had arranged for his death to be announced in his own particular way with a series of Tweets from his Twitter account. This is how I discovered the sad news on Thursday afternoon:
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
Tributes have been coming in from all around the world and I'll include some of them later in the issue.
There have been a number of radio interviews about Terry's life and I have included links to as many of them as I know about below. Please bear in mind that these may not be available for very long.
Interview with Emily S. Whitten, Chair of the first North American Discworld Convention
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054p0f6 (about 5 minutes from end)
Interviews with me, Jason Anthony, editor of Discworld Monthly
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02k46lq (2 hours 41 minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02kbk71 (1 hour 54 minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ks6hz (2 hours 16 minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054p0d3 (1 hour 8 minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05473ks (1 hour 10 minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02k8mtm (1hour 19 minutes in)
Interview with Stephen Briggs, author of many play adaptations, the Discworld Companions, The Witt and Wisdom of Discworld and the original Discworld maps.
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054p0fd (2 hours 24 minutes in)
Interviews with Dr Pat Harkin, Super Fan and head auctioneer at Discworld events
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02kgcwz (1 hour 12minutes in)
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02k65r2 (44mintes in)
I have received many emails asking us to continue with Discworld Monthly and I can see no reason for stopping it. We may find the schedule continues to be erratic depending on how much news we can still provide. We are still expecting at least one new Tiffany Aching book and probably another two or three Long Earth books to come and I am sure they will always be news about play adaptations etc.
If you visit a play or a talk and would like to let the world know about it, please feel free to email your review to and we will consider it for publication.
Also if you have written an article that you think we might want to include in the newsletter please feel free to email me at the address below. We will of course give credit for anything we use.
Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor / Proof Reader)
Richard Massey (Volume Controller)
The official announcement of Terry's death came from Transworld, his publishers:
It is with immeasurable sadness that we announce that author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66.
Larry Finlay, MD at Transworld Publishers:
"I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds.
In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.
Terry faced his Alzheimer's disease (an 'embuggerance', as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.
My sympathies go out to Terry's wife Lyn, their daughter Rhianna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins, and to all closest to him."
Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12th March 2015. Diagnosed with PCA  in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.
We ask that the family are left undisturbed at this distressing time.
A Just Giving page donating to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) has been set up in his memory: www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett
 Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is a progressive degenerative condition involving the loss and dysfunction of brain cells, particularly at the back (posterior) of the brain. www.alzheimers.org.uk
A number of websites including our own (discworldmonthly.co.uk) and The Guardian (www.theguardian.com/uk) are remembering Terry by "Sending him home". The GNU Terry Pratchett idea is based on the clacks codes in Going Postal. The idea is that websites include a special hidden header with Terry's name in it. Plug-ins have been made available for some of the more popular browsers to highlight which websites include the header. Visit www.gnuterrypratchett.com/ for details.
The Orangutan Foundation have issued a press release about Terry's death and to summarise his wonderful support of the foundation over the years. It can be read at:
Stephen Baxter, Terry's co-author on The Long Earth series, has written a tribute to Terry in The Guardian at: discworldmonthly.co.uk/url/GUA214A
Web comic XKCD number 1498 included a tribute to Sir Terry. If you roll your mouse over the cartoon there is an extra comment.
Graeme Sheridan has now released a tribute issue of The Pratchett Podcast featuring some of the radio interviews I did for various BBC stations as well as a couple of Neil Gaiman interviews. You can visit The Pratchett Podcast at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/126205344153979/
Paul Kidby will be taking part in the Barons' Charter - the biggest ever mass participation public art event ever seen in the city of Salisbury. Much like the "oook bench" Paul will be painting one of the Barons with a Discworld theme. Keep an eye on Paul's Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/paulkidby?fref=ts and the Baron's Charter website at: www.thebaronscharter.org.uk/
Neil Gaiman on Terry Pratchett: 'He Did Something Huge and Noble'. In an interview with writer Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman spoke about how he felt when he found out about Terry's death. discworldmonthly.co.uk/url/HUF214A
Frank Cottrell Boyce writes "Terry Pratchett was a true great, the equal of Swift" in an article in The Guardian: discworldmonthly.co.uk/url/GUA214B
The Guardian have also included a piece written by Terry in 2008 entitled: A Butt of my Own Jokes in which he talks about his diagnosis of PCA. discworldmonthly.co.uk/url/GUA214C
The Guardian wrote a fitting obituary to Terry at: discworldmonthly.co.uk/url/GUA214D
The Shepard's Crown - the next Tiffany Aching novel will be released during 2015. The book was completed by Terry before his PCA became too bad. Paul Kidby has been busy working on the cover at. There is no set release date at the moment but it was originally scheduled for an October release.
The Long Utopia (the fourth book in The Long Earth series) is due for release in June.
2045-2059. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption humanity is spreading further into the Long Earth, and society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve.
Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang lives in disguise with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He's convinced they're leading a normal life in New Springfield - they even adopt a child - but it seems they have been guided there for a reason. As rumours of strange sightings and hauntings proliferate, it becomes clear that something is very awry with this particular world.
Millions of steps away, Joshua is on a personal journey of discovery: learning about the father he never knew and a secret family history. But then he receives a summons from New Springfield. Lobsang now understands the enormity of what's taking place beneath the surface of his earth - a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth.
To counter this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice...
The space-faring game Elite: Dangerous has created a Discworld Space Station in honour of Sir Terry.
The latest update added a new location called "Pratchett's Disc starport" which is located in system HIP 74290.
An online petition has been set up to ask Death to give Terry Pratchett back. This rather unusual petition has received almost 30,000 signatures. While we like the concept we doubt it will be successful...
Private Eye 1388 (20th March - 2nd April 2015) edition (page 30) included a claim of "snobbery or hypocrisy" from many of the newspapers that have shown lamentation over Terry's death. The article claims that for much of the 1990s and early 2000s many of the broadsheets would rarely review his works or interview him. Only when he got diagnosed with PCA did he become interesting to them. Its an interesting and thought provoking piece (our thanks to Colin Smythe for letting us know about it).
Warhammer Empire have created a series of Warhammer characters made to look like Discworld characters. Characters include "The Army of Lancre", "The Lancre Morris Men", "Ankh-Morpork Assassin's Guild's Ninja Morris Team"... Please note these are not for sale, just for you to wonder at the artist's skills with a paintbrush.
This section will contain events that you need to keep in your diary. Entries will remain until they go out of date. New entries will include the word [New] next to them. If this section gets too large we will start pruning entries.
From issue 190 onwards recurring monthly meetings have been moved to their own area at the bottom of the dates section.
[US, New] Socratic Theatre will be performing Wyrd Sisters from Friday 20th March to Sunday 29th March 2015. Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets cost 20 USD for general admission and 15 USD for students and seniors. The production is at the Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen Street East. Tickets are available from terrypratchettswyrdsisters.brownpapertickets.com
Visit Socratic Theatre Collective online!
[UK, New] Swansea, South Wales - To celebrate Discworld Monthly's move to South Wales we will be hosting an informal Discworld Monthly / Discworld Archive meeting of fans at the Potter's Wheel in Swansea on 28th March at 2pm. Please visit the event page on Facebook to let us know if you are planning to attend: www.facebook.com/events/1452406235050008/
[UK, New] Cardiff **UK PREMIERE** Witches Abroad. Monstrous Productions are delighted to be returning to the witches' story in their first UK premiere. With a brand new script by Renoir, this is your opportunity to witness something really special. And, as ever, profits will be donated to charity. Monstrous Productions have so far raised over 7,000GBP for Alzheimer's Research and are hoping that this production will push them ever closer to 10,000GBP. On at the Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch St, Cardiff from 8th to 11th April. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 7.30pm. Saturday matinee opens at 2pm, show starts at 2.30pm.
Tickets available at
[AU] NULLUS ANXIETAS V - The Australian Discworld Convention
On April 10-12, 2015 in beautiful Parramatta, Sydney, NSW, Australia, you will experience the magic of MOVING PICTURES with a range of delightful activities for all types of Discworld fans.
+++ BREAKING NEWS
We welcome our Special Guest Stars:
Rob Wilkins as "International Man of Mystery"
Colin Smythe as "Bon Vivant and Raconteur"
Stephen Briggs as "Debonaire Gentleman (delighted to be in Fourecks)"
All three of Sir Terry's closest friends/colleagues/confidants will be appearing in person at Nullus Anxietas V! This is your chance to learn what it's like working with the world's best/funniest/most intelligent author!
+++ BROKEN NEWS
* Meet the stars of the silver screen at the Gala Dinner!
* Show off your costuming and/or acting skills in the "I Wanna Be A Star" Maskerade and XXXX Factor!
* Participate in Studio activities to ensure you make the best clickies possible!
* Test your knowledge of Discworld and Movies and their influence on each other in our Quiz!
* Support the Orang-utan Foundation and the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation at the Charity Auction!
* Be crafty with chain maille, knitting, card-making and more!
* Can you sing? Dance? Handle a sword a little? Learn all these skills and more at our workshops!
* And much much more! With one thousand elephants!
For information on all of the above in a lot more detail, head over to our website at ausdwcon.org
Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Ausdwcon or follow us on Twitter @NullusAnxietasV
You can even get a lovely NAV t-shirt and coffee cup too! (Shipping to Australia and the UK): ausdwcon.org/shop
 Repairs in progress
[UK, New] Wyrd Sisters will be performed by Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court Theatre, 233 Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex (opposite the prison), from 15th-18th & 22nd-25th April 2015 at 7.45 pm.
Tickets priced 9 GBP (8 GBP concessions), available from the Civic Theatre on 01245 606505 or www.chelmsford.gov.uk/how-book-tickets-chelmsford-theatres-0
This will be an amateur production by Chelmsford Theatre Workshop. For further details please see chelmsfordtheatreworkshop.wordpress.com/
[UK] In the October half term of 2015 Uppingham Theatre Company will be putting on an amateur production of Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters.
We will be holding read through / auditions at 7:00pm on Monday 4th May, Wednesday 6th May, Monday 11th May and Wednesday 13th May, in the upstairs front room of Don Paddy's Market Place, Uppingham. Tickets for our production will go on sale in May.
[UK, New] Witches Abroad will be performed at Eynsford Village Hall, (North Kent, UK). Show dates are 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th of May with a matinee each Saturday, with a total of 6 performances.
Friday 8th & 15th - 7.45pm
Saturday 9th & 16th - 3.00pm & 7.45pm
Discount Code 'ESME15' until 23rd April 2015
[NL] Cabbagecon 3 proudly presents: the Assassins' Guild orientation weekend.
Ever wanted to be a member of one of the most prestigious guilds in Ankh Morpork? Now is your chance! The famous Assassins' Guild has announced that their orientation weekend in 2015 will be held at Cabbagecon 3, the Dutch Discworld convention. Representatives of four of the Guild Houses will be present at the convention to see if the convention members have the skills and dress sense necessary to make it as an Assassin.
Our guest of honour is translator Venugopalan Ittekot, who will give an exclusive presentation about a very special project.
Cabbagecon 3 will be held at hotel Val Monte in Berg en Dal (near Nijmegen) in the weekend of 27 and 28 June 2015. More information can be found at www.dutchdwcon.nl
Team Cabbagecon 3
[DE] With a 1000 camels the German Discworld Convention moves to the mysterious continent of Klatch! Make room in your schedule from September 10th to 13th in 2015 for the fourth German Discworld Convention at Castle Ludwigstein. Be there when it's getting hot!
Registration has started on our homepage and there is a bonus for early bookers who finish their ticket order by December 31st 2014!
Join the Facebook page to receive further updates:
[IRL] The Irish Discworld Convention 2015 will take place in Cork, Ireland at the Cork International Airport Hotel from the 2nd to the 5th of October 2015. Join us as a Special Constable for the Watch Open Weekend.
Visit www.idwcon.org or see the facebook group at: www.facebook.com/groups/idwcon/
Recurring monthly meetings:
[UK] The Broken Drummers meet at The Monkey Puzzle, Paddington, London, W2 1JQ, England at 7pm. For more information contact Helen Nicholls on
Unless otherwise stated the Drummers meet on the first Monday of each month.
The Drummers are always happy to welcome new visitors. You can find out more about the Drummers at www.brokendrummers.org/
[Perth, AU] The Perth Drummers have changed their name. They are now known as the Treacle Mining Corporation in honour of their beloved state. They still meet up to celebrate the works of author Sir Terry Pratchett, and welcome any fans of science fiction and fantasy.
Join them for their monthly discussion of Discworld, Terry Pratchett and all things sci-fi and fantasy. They meet the first Monday of each month, subject to holidays, and all are welcome.
The group meets up at Carpe Cafe, 526 Murray Street, Perth, WA. Meeting at a cafe means they are under-18 friendly!
For details follow them on Twitter @Perth_Drummers, Instagram perth_drummers, and facebook www.facebook.com/groups/Perth.Drummers/
Otherwise message Alexandra Ware directly at
Unless otherwise stated the group meets up on the first Monday of each month.
[AU] Sydney Drummers normally meet on the first Monday of every month.
We meet at the NEW venue, 3 Wise Monkeys, 555 George Street, Sydney, 2000 from 6:30pm
For more information contact Sue (AKA Granny Weatherwax) on
[UK] On the first Friday of every month there will be a meeting of WOTS - Omnian Temperance Society - Wincanton branch - to be held at The Bear Inn from 7pm. New members or visitors from other places always welcome.
[Adelaide, AU] The City of Small Gods is a group for fans in Adelaide and South Australia. We have regular monthly dinner and games nights, longer games days, plus play outings, craft-y workshops, and fun social activities throughout the year. For more info and to join our mailing list, visit: cityofsmallgods.org.au
[Brisbane, AU] The Pratchett Partisans meet monthly at either Brisbane
or Indooroopilly to eat, drink and chat about all things Pratchett. For
more info about their next meetup, check out:
3. Readers' Letters
If you have any letters or comments, please email them to
We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated, including the sender's email address. We may edit your letters by wrapping them around Welsh cakes... mmmmmm.
It is vitally important that you don't pass off other people's work as your own. If you use information from other resources please let us know so we can give proper credit.
* From: "Richard hardie"
The following article appeared in the Chandlers Ford Today online magazine. It may be of interest to Discworld Monthly and to TP fans in general.
Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015: An Appreciation From Chandler's Ford
* From: "Karen Newton"
Following the link in the Discworld Monthly newsletter (thank you, x ) I contacted and purchased one of the limited signed by all 26 characters book for my daughter.
"The Story Museum are selling 60 copies of their 26 Characters exhibition book that have been signed by every author involved including: Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Julia Donaldson and Terry Pratchett."
Absolutely delighted as was she when it arrived with fab photos and reasons for character choices made by each of the authors, beautifully set out and an all-round lovely book to own. We will definitely be planning a visit to the Story Museum.
They were very helpful and offered collection or delivery options. Was a 'special' thank you as I sold, bought & moved house the day before xmas eve!!, couldn't have done it without her Karlyanne (treb. KaBoom) and her lovely hubby Graham. so wanted something special, just the ticket. Many thanks Karen (treb. KaNe). xx
* From: "Alan Keatinge"
I have been trying, with an utter lack of success, to organise a monthly meeting in Turku, Finland on the first Wednesday of the month.
I thought you might bung in a mention of it in your wonderful publication.
This takes place the first Wednesday of the month, in Portii bar, Haemenkati(tavitsgatan) Turku, Finland from around 17:00.
People can contact me or check out our facebook page
* From: "Phil Barker"
I recently attended a memorial lecture event in honour of Dr. Margaret Gelling, the doyen of the place name studies society and author of the best book on the subject. Speaker after speaker mentioned her open mind and willingness to accept new ideas contradicting her own. I can reveal that her favourite reading was Private Eye and Discworld; and that several DW paperbacks were at her bedside when she died.
* From: "voodooist"
Just wanted to say thank you for all the effort everyone [except RM - Ed.] puts in to get this email out each month, its great to be kept up to date with everything that is going on..
A personal thing from me.... I am already one of the happiest people about in 2015 thanks to a good friend of mine who has the great fortune to be involved in looking after the Great Man Terry Pratchett himself, he mentioned to Terry that I was a huge fan (since the days of Strata lol) and had told him I was going on about the Raising Steam book saying my friend should read it.... My friend asked if he could borrow my book to read & see why I was such a fan, he turned up tonight & handed me my book back and said you need to look inside.......On the first blank page is written 2015 and Terry's signature he told me Terry had said this is the first & probably the last book he will sign this year...... I am a bad ass biker but I got a huge lump in my throat & could not speak..
So THANK YOU TERRY PRATCHETT for all the years of joy you have given me reading your books & sharing your amazing outlook on the reality of the Discworld....Long may you continue to make this world a happier place......
DWM replies: We received this letter back in January. We did think about whether we should include it, given the recent sad news. We decided that it was a nice letter so included it.
Once again thank you to Rachel Rowlands for coming up with five challenging questions for you to ponder this month.
The (hopefully correct) answers can be found at the end of this issue.
5. Tributes: Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015
We have received many emails from fans around the world lamenting the loss of a wonderful, witty and thought-provoking author, below is a selection:
A great loss to us all. But as long as people read his books he will never be forgotten only sadly missed my deepest sympathy to his family - Maurice Davis
Terry Pratchett went with grace and style. I would not expect any less. He made a lot of people very happy with his work. Not too many people can say that. - Loretta Harris
So sorry for your loss and for ours! There will never be another Sir Terry. - Chitterbird
Sir Terry said in an interview that his books may be not remembered in 50 years time. I think not. He brought a new type of humour tinged with reality to British literature. I for one will miss looking forward to his new books. - Jim
Sending you my thanks and my condolences. I'm sure this is truly devastating to you and I have to admit that I have cried more over this dear man and master of the Discworld than I have for a number of my own family members. Thanks to you for keeping us posted. Faithful reader, Edy
We would like to say how privileged we feel to have met and known Sir Terry. A wonderful man, and the world is now the poorer for his going. Liz and Keith Ingle DWCon attendees 1996 -2012
I was devastated at this news. My heart goes out to Lyn, Rhianna and Rob.
First on Friday the 27th February 2015 Leonard Nimoy, a hero of mine, died, and now the sudden loss of Terry on top of that. My heart is heavy. And I feel numb. I am sure Terry would face this type of thing with a glorious statement of the obvious, but I know not how to do so myself.
Goodbye PTerry. May your legacy live on forever. - Noel.
We have lost Terry Pratchett, but the Discworld lives on. There is enough life in both the creation and the community to warrant the continued celebration. That would be the best way to remember the author. - Buz
We cried and kept reading. M&N
I am too sad to do any more than "waily, waily waily". Thank You So Much For the Wonderful Discworld Monthly which appears in my inbox so regularly. I am fortunate to have a signed book by Pterry when he came to Auckland many years ago. It and the rest of his writings will bring much joy to all who find his writings. Yours in mourning, Nancy O'Shea
It has been a shattering week for me, I buried my sister on the same day Terry passed. My condolences to his family, and all of his fans. The world has indeed lost an amazing talent. - Charles Cockett
The world is a sadder place without him - his legacy lives on and he'll never be forgotten.
Best wishes - Dave Edwards.
It is a heartbreaking time and we understand completely, this talented man affected so many lives and while we knew the end had to come we all hoped it wouldn't be just yet. Rip Sir Terry Pratchett. - Angela Meehan
I always hoped I might meet him. It feels like losing a friend even though I never did. My thoughts are with all who were lucky enough to know him. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx - Carol Griffiths
The news hit hard for all. We all hoped for longer with Sir Terry. I already miss him. And cherish his writing even more - B.A.C
So very, very sad. My thoughts are with his wife and daughter and all his close friends. I have read and loved his books for over twenty-five years, ever since I discovered Good Omens, by accident, in my local library. He will be missed greatly by all the many people whose lives he has touched. - Liz Rolley.
6. Competition: Win Thief of Time in Welsh
To celebrate Discworld Monthly's move to its new home near Swansea, South Wales we have a copy of Lleidr Amser (Thief of Time) published by RILY publishing to give away. Lleidr Amser is, to our knowledge, the only Discworld book to be published in the Welsh language making it quite special.
In order to win this prize you need to tell us either of the other two Terry Pratchett books that have also been translated into Welsh. Send your answer in both English and Welsh, along with your postal address, to by 14th April 2015. Your address will only be used if you are one of the winners and only for sending out your prize - once prizes are sent out all address details will be destroyed. Entries received after the closing date or sent to any other address will be ignored. No more than one entry per person will be accepted. Multiple entries will be banned. Answers to the questions must not be posted to any websites before the competition ends. The judges' decision is final.
7. Terry Pratchett: In my words
Written by Paul Kruzycki (Ales by Mail and Chair of the 1996 and 1998 Discworld Conventions)
Everyone at Discworld Ales (and Ales By Mail) would like to express their sympathy to the family of Terry Pratchett, who passed away on the 12th March 2015.
Rest in Peace Terry.
A few weeks ago I was able to visit Terry at his home in Wiltshire. Following that visit I began to write these words. Today, his death has been announced and I offer my thoughts on my friend.
My friend Terry Pratchett is adrift. Finally snookered by the disease he spent his final years fighting. Valiantly attempting to keep one step ahead. Like the situations facing gunslingers in the westerns he loves, there isn't a way out of this confrontation.
When Terry Pratchett first met me he didn't know who I was. The last time I was fortunate to spend time in his company, the same was sadly true. Ravaged by his embuggerance, his brave fight was coming to an end and the vicious bastard that is PCA had finally rendered him silent.
When first we met, I'd been a face at a signing, a 30 second encounter, then a person posting on a newsgroup (alt.fan.pratchett). He didn't know me from Adam.
Today, as I knelt by his side and gently held his elbow, my friend Terry Pratchett was desperately trying to speak. His arms reached out periodically, as if trying to communicate in another way, and he leaned forward trying to see those around him.
I'd been prepared for what to expect - it helped a little. I needed to hold it together. It was one of the hardest things I've done. But I had to do it - I might not get another opportunity to say my goodbyes.
20 years ago a younger version of me wanted Terry Pratchett to be his friend - I believed that would allow me to become part of the Discworld empire. Young and arrogant, I didn't really understand friendship. The younger me would devour any new Discworld offering in hours. Fantasy - and particularly Pratchett's work - had given this academic underachiever a different kind of schooling. It had fanned the flames of my creativity.
I'm just a little younger than Terry was when we first met - when he decided not to snuff out an offer to run a Discworld fan convention. Would I feel the same way now if asked to put my faith in an untested, unknown person? Would I put my faith and trust in them? In honour of my friend and his vision, for what remains of my life I will try.
I owe Terry a tremendous debt of gratitude. He gave me a chance to shine - I learned how to run a business. The Convention had some amazing highs and soul-numbing lows. When we hit a snag he stepped in and helped. It lead me to the path I follow today, running a successful business.
I know now that friendship takes many forms. We were a generation apart and his knowledge of what seemed like everything was epic. I could listen to his anecdotes until the sun had long set. He would ask me questions (and was kind enough not to highlight any ignorance in my naive answers) and he listened when I did speak. There would have been booze! He was careful not to pour scorn on my exuberant optimism for an idea, and I began to understand how his mind worked. We had become friends.
Over the years we had our moments - friendships do. We fell out, we disagreed and more than once relations broke down with only essential communication via third parties. During those times I missed being able to seek his counsel. A true friendship survives these trials: his capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation was massive. My temperament when younger didn't help, for sure. More than once he gave a way back, when frankly he didn't need to.
The generosity of these actions is what I will remember of him most. He really had no obligation to put his faith in me again and again - looking back now as I reflect on our history I can finally understand just what our friendship was. I know a lot of what he felt for me - and I for him - was unspoken. A very British friendship indeed.
Once, right at the beginning, I got to see behind the professional facade - I'd been upset by someone's reaction when I enquired as to their well-being at the very first Discworld Convention in 1996. I was close to tears - the emotion, stress and too little sleep tipped me over the edge. Terry heard and saw my distress and, realising my need for privacy, shielded me from the glare of others. We ended up in one of the hotel's back-of-house areas, where he asked me what had happened.
I tried to explain, but when I broke down again - well, I'll remember his words forever. "Paul, you're one of the best blokes I know...." and at that point he too broke down with emotion. More words were said, but have since faded from memory. We hugged, pulled ourselves together and went our separate ways, back into the glare of the Convention.
Shortly afterwards, I received an apology from the person who'd triggered the meltdown. I think Terry, as he would put it, had "prodded some buttock". He had my back.
In the years I've known Terry I've been privileged to spend time with him at events and down the pub - he famously condemned me to a custard bath during an evening spent in a Suffolk pub garden. When he was working and on tour we used to follow him from shop to shop distributing leaflets about the Convention - the World Wide Web was in its infancy at the time. I generally tried to be invisible: we were there at the pleasure of the bookstores and didn't want to push our luck. Terry was working and didn't need us as a distraction. In Colchester, my home town at the time, Terry was signing in a tiny bookshop, and was down in the basement.
He was on his own at the time, with no publisher's minder in attendance. For the duration of the signing, I stayed at his side handing out potatoes on pieces of string and chatting - answering fans' Convention questions if clarification was needed, and at one point moving a couple of rowdy youths out of the way. It was a great few hours, with surprisingly few words. It was like existing in a dream state. We went for dinner afterwards: I gave him some company and it was his way of thanking me for my time. A priceless thanks, that money couldn't buy.
A generous friend, he was prepared to let me play in his creation and to create ales based on his characters. Others would not have been so overwhelmingly generous. I've had so much fun in his world.
Terry, thank you for everything you have given without expectation of return, time you have shared, for the entertainment, the laughs, the joy and the shared tears. Thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin and having my back when I needed it.
I wish there was more I could do for you in this hour of need. Go gently now my friend. I hope Death is on hand to guide you as you begin the next big adventure. Rest well, and I will raise a glass of fine brandy in your honour. Thank you for being my friend.
8. The End
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