Very occasionally, in these pages, I have mentioned the late Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of books. In fact, I've just checked my back catalogue and there are a tiny proportion of posts concerning STP and his prolific literary output (less than 1%) which, bearing in mind his popularity within Tense Towers, is a bit of a travesty.
Following his death earlier this year, it's probably fair to say that many Discworld fans were in a state of trepidation regarding the 41st and last book to be written and finally published at the end of August.
Speaking for myself, I wasn't in a rush to buy it, but couldn't quite articulate why not. On our way to Rhodes for First Born's wedding in early September, Our Lass pointed out the book on the shelves of W H Smith's in Manchester Airport and asked if I was yet ready to purchase it. I was not, but still couldn't put it into words. Helpfully, Second Born came to my rescue, by echoing my thoughts and explaining that it was probably due to the fact that it was the last one and, once bought and read, that was it, no new Discworld tales.
As has become customary over time (in some unfathomable, holistic and serendipitous way), a Discworld book was published shortly before my birthday each year so, as long as I was in possession of a little patience, everything would come to he who waits.
And it unfolded in a similar way this year, too.
Again I prevaricated, carefully crafting reasons not to begin reading the book and so hastening the end of the story. However, eventually, I did succumb to curiosity and begin reading The Shepherd's Crown, a story centred upon the young witch Tiffany Aching, who lives on the downland where, unsurprisingly, the main agricultural occupation is the raising of fluffy, white lawnmowers.
Then, yesterday, the postman delivered the latest edition of British Wildlife (in fact, the first edition since the publication of The Shepherd's Crown) and on page 25 is an article about sheep and The Chalk.
See, I told you it was holistic.
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