Terry Pratchett is best known for the “Discworld” novels – if you are already a fan then they need no introduction. If you aren’t, then you are seriously missing out.
How to describe them? “Comic fantasy” is far too vague, so imagine if Douglas Adams had called PG Wodehouse, Frankie Howerd, Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python team to the pub and said “Listen lads, we’re going to write a book” and you are probably almost there. More recently, Terry Pratchett has become known for his fund-raising and campaigning work as he suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Did I say “suffer”? Actually he wouldn’t approve of that word. His answer to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has been to donate £500,000 of his own money to help research the disease, and he is also running an eye-catching campaign – “Alzheimer’s will be sorry it caught Terry Pratchett!”
This is the sort of absurdity that his fans will instantly appreciate, but it also tells us something about how he views the disease. Sometimes with long-term conditions it is easy for the patient to take second place to their condition, and this can happen from both the patient and the carer’s perspective. By flipping the person/disease relationship around, Terry Pratchett is putting Alzheimer’s in its proper place and reducing its power to dominate his life. And he is getting good and angry about it – tapping the disease on the shoulder in the pub of life and saying “Oi! Outside! Now!”
Alzheimer’s is a neutron bomb type of disease – attacking the mind whilst leaving the body standing, but with news coming through on a regular basis about advances in both treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s, the power and fear of this condition is slowly decreasing. And with such a high profile and engaging campaigner supporting the drive, more work can be done against this pernicious disease.
So keep fighting Terry, and keep writing! – we want to see many more books and some more discworld stories too. Fans will have their favourites – “Guards! Guards!” will always be mine, although for sheer comic lunacy and brilliance, check out the way Granny Weatherwax defeats the vampyres in “Carpe Jugulam”. And if all that goes completely over your head then go and buy one of his books. You’ll be giving your mental health a good dose of laughter, as well as supporting a fine man in a worthwhile and important campaign.
For more information, follow “Alzheimer’s will be sorry it caught Terry Pratchett!” on Facebook or google Terry Pratchett.