RIP Sir pterry

I used to boast that I was the proud owner of a complete collection of unsigned Terry Pratchett hardcover first editions.

This was a particularly pleasing concept to me because Terry was such a prolific author, who reached out to his fans more than he needed, that it was always easy to get your books signed. In fact, he’d often allow you to bring any other books of his you might own to a book signing for a new book, and he’d find time to sign those too.

Keeping them unsigned was actually harder work than having him sign them.

Harder than you might think.

He would actually break into your house in the middle of the night, and sign books while you’re slept. That’s how my copy of Soul Music ended up signed, and why I cannot boast anymore.

Of course the rational part of me knows that the reality of the situation is that my original copy went mysteriously missing during my move to the USA. Stolen by a mover or hand with a basic knowledge of how much that particular book goes for on eBay, no doubt. And that while the insurance did pay for a replacement, there was simply no way to find an unsigned first edition to replace mine, so I ended up with a signed one.

I discard the rational explanation and go for the fantastical one every time, because that’s what Terry Pratchett taught me to do.

This is the man who taught me that any cassette tape*, left in a car for about a fortnight, turns into a “Best of Queen” album whether you want it to or not.

The man who taught me that the lost day when you travel from London to Sydney is, in fact, “confiscated by customs and returned to you when you leave,” and not an artifact of time zones and travel time.

The man whose characters deliberately made an arrow shot at a dragon so complicated, and ridiculous, that it just had to be a million to one shot and thus guaranteed to kill the beast.

The man who taught me that the greatest prize at a competition wasn’t the award of the judges, or the trophy, or the honour and ribbons. But the nod from the old lady by the fence, with her two dogs, and a quiet “that’ll do” as you leave the ring.

I owe more of my sense of humour, my beliefs, my morals, and my sense of what it means to be good, and do right, to him than to anyone else.

* under 30? ask your parents.


Now read this

Hiding arguments from ps

There are many articles on the Interwobble telling you how to set the process title on Linux; they all concentrate on the problem of placing an arbitrarily long string in argv[0] to report status information in the process list. But what... Continue →