Back in Black moved me. From the title of this post, I shouldn't need to point out I'm not referring to ACDC but to the docu-drama about Sir Terry Pratchett's life. It was clear to me, to millions of people in this country and around the world, just how brilliant he was before watching this program, but it was a pleasant, sad reminder of the scope of that brilliance and how we need more than a streak of it in the world today. Seeing Neil Gaiman try to hold it together in a restaurant, only to ask for his friend back was somehow the cue that it was okay to feel this way (not to mention the petition calling for Death to give Terry back...).
It's a rare gift for someone to be able to make you laugh, or to make you think. Terry could make you do both in equal measure, giving you a fun, silly fantasy world that dissected the real world in the most revealing way. Sometimes the truths on show made you feel uncomfortable, sometimes they made you uncomfortable in the bladder area because you were trying to restrain yourself from pissing yourself laughing. Funny is not the opposite of serious, that was key to his writing, as the BBC program quoted. That's what we need now.
This was the way the Discworlds and his other works could address the world, poking fun and asking serious questions at the same time, forcing the issues to stand up and defend themselves. Terry was an angry man, bristling at the injustices in the world, at anything that was unfair, doing what he could to correct those imbalances, primarily in the written word and the way he touched the lives of his fans. A man who always had his head and his hands in at least two or three books at the same time, still dedicating his time to conventions, to un-sign a book or to give opportunities out to illustrators, writers, civil servants, and so many others. Seeing his life played out, both dramatised and recorded from the time has put a jolt of inspiration into me, made me make a promise to 'be more Terry'.
Because I'm angry, about so many things right now, as I'm sure a lot of people are, for whatever reason. And what can I do about it? Well, I'm going to 'be a bit more Terry' and write about it, even if no one ever sees the books. I'm going to correct any wrongs that I see, make my voice heard in any way that I can, from protests, to discussions, to my written words. I'm going to annoy people, because that's what Terry would have wanted.
A quote on a sign in the Discworld emporium that the camera lingered on caught my eye. Either I was reading it for the first time or I had left it on a high shelf in the library of my memory and the Librarian was off-duty (or not yet an orang-utan and therefore couldn't reach the top shelf). 'Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.' This struck a chord with me, with the world today, the world that is trying its best to go back to much worse time.
The day before Back in Black, Piers Morgan's latest Twitter meltdown after being told to 'Fuck off' on TV came directly to mind. His butter knife sharp comeback to J. K. Rowling was to say, 'This is why I've never read a single word of Harry Potter,' similarly dismissing Star Wars, saying that he, 'doesn't do silly fantasy stuff'. The man who yells 'snowflake!' as a derogatory term for fragile liberals and then proceeds to break down on the internet over one person not liking him being annoyed by stories of imagination is exactly what we need, and it's encouraging to see people being more Terry on Twitter and other platforms. (This was then followed by an account proceeding to Tweet the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at Piers Morgan, line by line. Beautiful.)
Imagination is a powerful, wonderful tool, that doesn't detract from someone's 'seriousness', conflating the desire to read fun books with witches and wizards in them with a lack of intelligence is a dangerous game to play. Remember, piss off a writer, and you'll be straight in a book as a villain, or, even worse, a loathsome but ultimately insignificant character that isn't even important enough to be a full villain.
So I promise to be more Terry, to make the world fun while being quite serious about it, to annoy people without imagination who are making the world unfair, and, hopefully, become as prolific as he was in the writing department.