Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Punishment from the gods

Apologies for lack of posting, I’ve been struck down by something resembling the flu. I was lucky as it wasn’t quite as full-on I WANT TO DIE as it’s been described by some (although there were a few hours like that), but deeply unpleasant and not recommended nonetheless.

Anway, I’ve not been blogging much during this time as:
1) it hurt to open my eyes
2) it hurt to focus on things
3) I wasn’t in a particularly temperate mood about things
4) in some kind of properly-ridiculous instilled-Protestant-values stylee, I felt guilty about doing something that involved writing words on a computer while too ill to be at work writing words on a computer.

(yes, I know the latter is silly: the words I write at work are much more boring, based on spreadsheets, and told to people who actually need to listen to them, whereas blogging is just about writing what I want to write and that I hope will be interesting. This is why I’m very jealous of columnists, both the ones who are better writers than me and the ones who are much worse.)

Before everything went properly wrong – although I was feeling distinctly foul which may explain its belligerent tone and/or incoherence – I wrote an article on comedy for Liberal Conspiracy. My comment #7 telling everyone who didn’t like the piece to fuck off was written with screwed-open eyes the day after the piece, which was the worst day of the fluidity; apologies.

I did manage to discover, on finally prising myself out of bed, the excellent-if-you’re-ill-and-your-brain-isn’t-working-properly Swiss Railway Journeys. This isn’t your average travel show, or even your average trainspotter show. Swiss trains are electric, modern and identical to each other. Swiss railway lines vary between slightly hilly and very hilly, as does Swiss countryside. The programme is narrated by the world’s most boring man, in the same tone as the football scores. Occasionally they take a five-minute digression to visit a cheese factory, which is modern, automated and spotlessly clean. The whole thing is set to non-stop elevator music. It’s somewhere between Buddhism, Last Of The Summer Wine and hell.

I also read Terry Pratchett’s Nation; I figured something actively marketed as a children’s book, by a man who normally writes children’s books marketed as adults’ books [*], would be at about the right level of taxing for my mental state. I was right… and it was moving and sweet and well-written and it’s definitely a book you should give to children. Particularly ones who happen to have right-wing parents.

However, I couldn’t quite get away from its resemblance to something else. According to an online review (although I haven’t seen the quote elsewhere), Pratchett has said:

To summarize Nation is quite impossible

This is lies, I can do it in four words: “shorter His Dark Materials”.

[*] this isn’t a criticism of Pratchett. It’s a criticism of people who think he’s in a different category of writer from Philip Pullman, Roald Dahl and other writers of clever children’s books.