Time is a Drug. Too Much of it Kills You.

Back in Bellfield Primary School I attempted to read The Colour of Magic. It was a little beyond me then, and perhaps it still is. Terry Pratchett, who succumbed to his embuggerance (what he called his Alzheimer’s) yesterday, was a satirist of formidable skill. His publisher reminded us in his own comments on the old bean’s passing that his Discworld was always a clever take on this world, and not simply the escape people like me hoped it would be. It certainly won’t be easy to take his death seriously, as he taught us to take nothing seriously – and, in the final analysis, we have to apply this wisdom to our teacher’s own demise. It took me many years to return to Pratchett and I am glad that I did. His insight into the ridiculousness at the heart of society has enriched my life, and has armed me with more than a few brilliant witticisms. Isn’t emulation the highest compliment? Pratchett’s ‘fiction’ opened my own eyes to the more difficult truths behind many of the idols which I held dear, and so our relationship – as author and reader – was not always an easy one. Many of his opinions, especially on the question of right to die, have challenged and continue to challenge me. I think that they should.


My own cherished ideas on the sanctity of life – of all living things – have stopped me from engaging in any meaningful reflection on people having the right to determine the time and cause of their own. Yet I have come to realise that the most profound learning I have ever done has been done in the face of lived experience, and I have never had the experience of suffering from a debilitating and degenerative disease. Terry Pratchett never got the chance to choose his own time and way, but still I find myself moved by his voice on the subject.


Now that he is gone we will all have to face the hard reality of a world without any more Discworld; without his razor-sharp examination of human nature and organisational and national culture. His perception of the real never became predictable as he was gifted with the sight of seeing the world in motion in a way that few others could. Having never had the opportunity to meet the man this is what I will miss most about the author. He still had so much more to say. It came too early – the final

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