Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sir Terry Pratchett and "maybe a slice of tomato"

During August of 1997, sitting with my mother in hospital during her last sad days, I couldn't help noticing the guy who used to sit by the elderly patient in the bed opposite. The visitor, while his relative slept, would read a book with a constant grin on his face, occasionally bursting into spluttering laughter.

"What are you reading?"
"It's a Terry Pratchett novel - great stuff !"
"So I'd gathered !"
"You should try him!"
"I will."

Ever since then I've had a stored intention to get my head into some Terry Pratchett books but somehow haven't yet got around to doing so. There are so many, and they're mostly part of a set all relating to his fantasy Discworld. Each time I've begun looking for a used book or two of his I've been overwhelmed by sheer numbers and felt that venturing in to them now would be like trying to leap and hang on to the rail at the back of a speeding train which left the station long ago. In our local video rental store though, a few weeks ago I spotted:

Going Postal - a 2010 2-disc adaptation for TV of a Terry Pratchett novel - I grabbed it without further investigation - turned out to have been a good choice. We both enjoyed it a lot. Pratchett's style has echoes of....let's see.....Douglas Adams, Thorne Smith, Lewis Carrol, Harry Potter stories, Terry Gilliam and get the idea? Fantasy with recognisable references and a good engaging story with quirky characters and excellent visuals. The plot involves a first-class con artist called Moist Von Lipwig finding the tables turned on him when he's conned into becoming the Ankh-Morpork Postmaster General. A position that has not been filled in years. This adaptation was produced as a 2-parter for Sky TV in the UK.

Properly referred to as Sir Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett, OBE, the author was knighted in 2009. Wikipedia tells that:
Pratchett was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 70 million books worldwide in thirty-seven languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US. ............. And, very sadly: In December 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Sir Terry now fights to raise awareness of the disease. Public attention increasing since he publicly backed assisted dying by making the BBC documentary Choosing to Die.

Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, bought a second-hand typewriter with the proceeds. His first novel, The Carpet People was published in 1971. His literary fate, he says, was truly sealed when, aged 10, he first picked up a copy of The Wind in the Willows...."Mole, Rat, Toad, Badger. All different sizes. All can go inside one another's houses. All wear clothes. The toad, by no means a looker, can pass as a washerwoman. That enthralled me." He worked as a journalist and press officer for some years, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including the first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987 he began writing full time. His chosen style: a kind of magical-quirky-satirical-comical-fantasy.

Sir Terry's natal chart set for 12 noon as his time of birth isn't known.

I don't have far to seek to find the astro-signature of his trademark style: look at Venus, planet of the arts tightly conjunct eccentric Uranus - and in writers' sign Gemini too! Game set and match right there! Jupiter is opposite, in its home sign Sagittarius, known for philosophical leanings. From the Pratchett quotes below a definite philosophical bent can be sensed, so this astrological opposition reflects a balancing of the eccentric with the philosophical, and works out well.

A trio of planets in Leo, sign of a born leader in a chosen genre, who is unlikely to be ignored by the general public.

Sun and Mercury in Earthy Taurus with Moon somewhere in similarly Earthy Capricorn provide an underlying base of good old commonsense and business-sense around which his eccentric quirks and philosophical meanderings can swirl.

RANDOM QUOTES from Terry Pratchett and his novels

“There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.

The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who's been pinching my beer?

And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass) or who had no glass at all, because he was at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barman's eye. ”
(The Truth)

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
(Men at Arms)

“There was this about vampires : they could never look scruffy. Instead, they were... what was the word... deshabille. It meant untidy, but with bags and bags of style.”
(Monstrous Regiment)

“The universe contains any amount of horrible ways to be woken up, such as the noise of the mob breaking down the front door, the scream of fire engines, or the realization that today is the Monday which on Friday night was a comfortably long way off. A dog's wet nose is not strictly speaking the worst of the bunch, but it has it's own peculiar dreadfulness which connoisseurs of the ghastly and dog owners everywhere have come to know and dread. It's like having a small piece of defrosting liver pressed lovingly against you.”
(Moving Pictures)

“He'd noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: it fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination - but at the end of the day they'd settle quite happily for egg and chips. If it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.”
(The Fifth Elephant)

“This book was written using 100% recycled words.”
(Wyrd Sisters)

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.”

“The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.”

“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.”

More quotes at


Wisewebwoman said...

A funny funny man, I agree with him on so many different levels.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~~ Me too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Would you consider looking at Terry Pratchett's transits and progressions, etc. in reference to early-onset Alzheimer's? It's a tragic illness for anyone but seems more so for people with such strong intellects. My aunt was a very successful newspaper editor and now has Alzheimer's. She was near-fanatical about spelling, grammar, politics and all news stories. I'd like to know more. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Hi there!

I'm very sorry to read of your aunt's experience.

I did consider looking at transits with that in mind as I prepared the post, but felt wary about doing so. We can't know for sure when the disease truly began, we only know when Sir Terry made it public. Since you've asked though, I took a look at the ephemeris for 2007 to see whether any transits were "hitting" his personal planets.

Pluto was in the last few degrees of Sagittarius then - conjoining his natal Jupiter. Pluto is known as a transformer, its transits can be devastating depending on one's situation (I can vouch for this personally). Saturn the other likely "culprit" was in Leo and had been close to his Leo cluster of planets since 2006, including his natal Saturn - known to astrologers as a Saturn Return, which often brings changes in lifestyle of one sort or another.

I suspect that the combination of Pluto and Saturn transits connect to the developing disease.

I don't believe in the validity of progressions, that's just my own opinion mind you, I'm sorry, can't help on that score.