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I never feel like the year has started properly until my birthday. I think it’s because it’s so close to new year’s, anyway. I feel like it’s really the end of the festive season on the 4th of Jan 😉

The answer to my Terry Pratchett question is his novel Witches Abroad. (Not many TP fans out there?) It is such an absurd little scene, that has no meaning whatsoever in the book, except perhaps to illustrate the no-nonsense character of one of the witches. They (the three main characters, who happen to be witches, are rowing a boat through a mountain cavern, when there comes the sound of something behind them…

  [“Something’s following us!” hissed Magrat.  

Two pale glows appeared at the edge of the lamplight. Eventually they turned out to be the eyes of a small, grey creature, vaguely froglike, paddling towards them on a log. It reached the boat. Long clammy fingers grabbed the side, and a lugubrious face rose level with Nanny Ogg’s.  

“’ullo,” it said. “It’sss my birthday.”  

All three of them stared at it for a while. Then Granny Weatherwax picked up an oar and hit it firmly over the head. There was a splash, and a distant cursing.  

“Horrible little bugger,” said Granny, as they rowed on. “Looked like a troublemaker to me.”  

“Yeah,” said Nanny Ogg. “It’s the slimy one’s you have to watch out for.”  

“I wonder what he wanted?” said Magrat. ]    

That is the end of the scene. So typically Pratchett, putting a bit of nonsense like that in the middle of the story. The creature was never mentioned again. My sister and I do the ‘It’sss my birthday’ every year to each other, and no-one else knows what we are on about, except to think that we’re a bit weird. 

I really like Pratchett’s work. He is cuttingly sharp with his wit, and for this, I forgive him writing in the fantasy genre. I don’t usually read fantasy. I actually hate it. You can keep your JRR Tolkien and your Douglas Adams. But for Pratchett I’ll make an exception any day, especially if it is one of his ‘Witches’ books. The Nanny Ogg charcter is the most hilarious one I’ve read. Especially when she gets tipsy and starts singing her hedgehog song (The hedgehog can never be buggered at all…) and her wizard song (The wizard’s staff has a knob on the end). He has a whack sense of humour, but I could eat it up for breakfast.


Written by Maggie

January 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Perhaps it’s a reference to Gollum in The Hobbit? You just said I could keep my Tolkien, but surely you’ve at least seen the Lord of the Rings. But anyway, in The Hobbit, Gollum lives deep in a water-filled cave. That’s point one. Point two is that his eyes are described as luminous. I doon’t quite remember if he matches the description “a small, grey creature, vaguely froglike,” but it’s plausible-sounding. Third point: Gollum’s speech definitely has more s’s than any normal person, and fourth, Gollum spends a lot of time talking about his “birthday present”–the ring. It being his birthday was Gollum’s original rationalization for taking the ring from his friend when it was found. So yeah. I’m pretty sure it was Gollum.


    January 6, 2008 at 12:48 am

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