Some people change your life as soon as you meet them. Something in you clicks, responds to them like a crocus to the sun. You just ‘get’ them.
Sometimes this happens when you’ve never even met them. You just know about them, get an inside glimpse into their mind and heart through their art.
Terry Pratchett did that for me.
I met a boy when I was 19. It was doomed from the start and everyone could see it but me. I thought I loved him. Sigh. It was 13 months of unadulterated misery but you know what? I don’t regret a day of it. I emerged from that relationship surprisingly unscathed and with twin new loves – Shotokan karate and Terry Pratchett.
The karate had nothing to do with the boy; I’d wanted to start it for a while and there was a club near his house. It made sense at the time – I was going to be with the boy forever so why wouldn’t I start training at a club on the opposite side of town to my house? I tell you, it was a nightmare getting there once we’d split up. I even saw him a few times at the bus stop. Shudder. (I always feel you know a relationship was a bad one when the memory of it makes you physically retch.)
As for my ongoing love affair with Sir Terry, that I do have to credit to the boy. He lent me my first Discworld novel – The Colour of Magic – and from then on I devoured them in strict order. When the boy’s collection ran out, I started my own. His books always used to come out around my birthday, so whatever else I had, I knew I’d get a new Pratchett. It was often the highlight of my year.
And yesterday, the man in the hat, the great satirist, the man I just ‘got’, died. He was 66 and he took a shattered fragment of my heart with him into the great beyond.
He had early onset Alzheimer’s and it was a bastard of a disease that had no right to rob a man of such wonderful wit of his abilities. That disease has no right to exist, not in Terry’s world, not in mine, not in anyone’s.
Terry’s final tweets, posted by his assistant Rob after he died, in bed with his cat asleep beside him and his family around him, encapsulate the man and his legacy: