by Joe Vaz
|I arrived late at the game, only picking up The Colour of Magic in 1989, I think. It was soon followed by Light Fantastic and Equal Rites and so on and so forth.
Over the last twenty six years a Discworld novel has been my companion across a myriad of significant memories.
I remember reading Maskerade while rehearsing La Cage Aux Folles at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, loving every second of being backstage in a massive theatre while reading about the backstage of a massive theatre in the Discworld.
While reading Soul Music during the actual run of the show I realised that I wanted to take my music a little more seriously and, with two of my best friends, we created a band that had a modicum of success.
I remember meeting Terry in a Manchester signing and asking him to sign my copy of Soul Music to the band, telling him that it was thanks to him that we had started taking the music seriously, to which he replied, “I’m so sorry,”.
In four cities across two continents I showed up at Pratchett signings, most of the time it was to introduce friends to Terry, because however brilliant and funny and smart his books are, they are nothing compared to the man himself. He always had the time to share a short conversation and a smile with every single person in the signing queue, even if he had been sitting there for several hours already.
I read about Vimes having a baby around the same time as I did, and I took heart from the fact that this man, who is so married to his job, loved his child and made the time to read to him every night.
I read Small Gods while studying and it taught me so much about people and how belief is so much more powerful than reality sometimes.
In Making Money Pratchett helped me understand, in two pages, how economics works, better than any teacher I ever had.
He taught me that the universe was played into being by one great chord, which makes perfect sense to me, because music is life. He showed me how to make an audience cry by making them laugh.
And he taught me about Narrativium, the power of stories, and their ability to change reality, the fact that things which have a one-in-a-million chance of succeeding, succeed nine out of ten times.
As an actor, a musician, a father, a writer and a human being, there is no one person in this world who has taught me more than Terry Pratchett has through his books.
Over the years I have lived in several different cities, in several different countries, but wherever I have found myself, there has always been a Pratchett book by my side. Time and time again his works have made me think, made me cry and left me gasping for breath, or wiping a tear from my eye upon turning the last page.
But above all else, he made us laugh. And laugh, and laugh and laugh. Laugh while on the London underground, laugh at 3 am when your partner is soundly asleep, laugh in a queue at the bank, laugh and laugh.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, that besides being one of the best writers, satirists and philosophers of our time, Terry Pratchett felt like a friend. A constant companion that has been by my side from my 16th year, all the way through to my 42nd, and counting. A friend that explained the world to me, how finances work, how people think, how villains laugh; the love of music, and family and pink ponies. His books have covered every genre imaginable, and those are just the Discworld novels.
Today is a sad day, because today I, and millions of fans like me, have lost a friend, a voice of reason, a voice of hope.
But his words will live on and on and on, whether it’s Moist von Lipwig saying them, or Granny Weatherwax, or Vimes, or the Patrician, or Ridcully, or Twoflower, or Rincewind, or Susan, or Carrot…
I sincerely hope somewhere in the afterlife a bottle of champagne has been popped and a party has been started to commemorate the arrival of one of the greats.
We love you Terry.