I came into work today bouncing. Music on high, chomping on a chocolate croissant, admiring my own waistcoat…
I’m increasingly taken by surprise when the deaths of people I don’t know affect me, and significantly. The initial ‘Fuck’ is followed almost immediately by a niggling doubt that I even have a right to feel so strongly. A query as to whether I’m bandwagon jumping/using the occasion as an excuse for emotion. Then I remember simply to feel, first.
Along with many others, I’m really, really glad I lived in a world that Terry Pratchett was also living in. It made me smile, gave me a lift, when I remembered that he was out there, doing what he did. And that’s because he made a huge difference to my life, in several fundamental, positive ways. Not in a bang! kapow! all at once! kind of way. But rather like the progress of Great A’Tuin, occasionally dropping a fart of an idea, during their long, slow travel through space.
Terry Pratchett, a fundamentally silly man (thank goodness), taught me all kinds of things, whilst also entertaining me. That fact alone, still blows my mind. Think about it for a second. As a result of his writing, I pulled at the beginnings of thoughts that would eventually form part of the foundation of the person I am/will be. ALL WHILST I WAS LAUGHING. HOLY SHIT.
As a lonely kid, I found stories that engaged me, that weren’t about how Matt from Maths was soooo dreamy. As a sarcastic kid, constantly baffled by the crazy decisions of the adult world, I found a fellow snarker, who gently showed me how it was possible to love humanity precisely because, rather than despite its complete nonsensicalness. When I met death, Death helped me. When I suffered bigotry (N. Irish childhood), he helped me understand Why People Do Religion And How To Survive Them Doing So. He taught me not to be a snob (literary or otherwise), that it’s ok to ask for help, that nobody’s perfect and several fundamentals of philosophy, entrepreneurship and people management (ah, Vetinari). How to pass, should I ever find myself in the position of being a talking dog. And when I finally did start thinking that Matt from Maths (and Matilda from Maths, for that matter) was dreamy, he made me feel a hell of a lot better that I didn’t have a bloody clue what to do about it.
Most importantly, he taught me how to laugh. At my own pomposity, at the futility of human existence, at the various dances we do to make meaning of it all, at a really, really bad pun. His books are a refuge, an inspiration, a frustration at times, but always a place where I felt safe. It gave me comfort, therefore, that thought that he was out there, doing what he did; it meant that others were Getting It Too.
And of course, I’m being a bloody idiot again, cos the books will still be there, the ideas will still fart out (I like this analogy, shut it), the massive Everything that Terry Pratchett did with his sandglass will go on to affect many, many others. I’m so *glad*. Thanks, dude.