Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 155: March 2010

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Review: Going Postal - Progress Theatre Reading
6. Review: The Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2010
7. Review: Live Broadcast of Nation on 30th January 2010
8. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 155. I apologise for the lateness of this issue. Real life and work have once again conspired against me having time to sit down and write.

At the beginning of February I was one of the lucky fans chosen to be part of the audience at this year's Richard Dimbleby lecture. The lecture was given by one Sir Terry Pratchett.

I managed to get my timing completely wrong and ended up at the Royal Society of Physicians two hours early, so I spent some time walking around the very splendid Regent's Park until I got too cold and decided to find somewhere to get a drink. The first pub I came to just happened to have the recognisable figure of Bernard "The Cunning Artificer" Pearson inside. So I spent a while in the company of Bernard, Isobel, Ian and Reb (who many of your will know from the Discworld Emporium). After a drink or two we headed back to the Royal Society for the performance.

A short review of which you will find in section 6.

After the performance a group of us fans decided to gatecrash the meeting of The Broken Drummers in Paddington. This is the first time I've been in London at the same time as a Drummers meeting. We enjoyed a couple of drinks as we tried to answer the very difficult quiz set by Pat Harkin. Eventually I had to head back home.

I had a great evening - it was very interesting hearing Terry's wonderful speech and then having the opportunity to visit a Drummers meeting. If I happen to be in London on a Drummers evening I will be sure to visit again.

Terry's Richard Dimbleby Lecture reached an audience of 2.1 million viewers - the most the lectures have recorded since they began in 1973. It beat the Archbishop of Canterbury's 2002 record of 1.8million.

Don't forget, if you visit a play or a talk and would like to let the world know about it, please feel free to email your review to and we will consider it for publication.

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Boardgame Dork)

2. News

Update from Terry via - the supplier of quality Discworld products.


So many people have contacted me since the Richard Dimbleby lecture that there is no possibility at all that I can reply to everyone individually.

Generally speaking people are asking what they can do to help, support and, indeed, take some control over their own death. The people to contact for all this are at Dignity in Dying - - they can campaign better than two blokes in an office.

I'm getting some interesting letters though, some of them are from couples who have refrained from having children for the good of the planet, and now fear facing their final illness with no one to fight their corner. The same thinking seems to be affecting people who are happily single. Suddenly the ties of family seem more attractive than once they did. As one lady said 'saying that friends are the new family is all very well, but it starts to ring hollow as we get older.'

I want to make it clear what it is that I have been saying recently since retelling can change things.

I think that assisted death should be available to people who clearly have a serious and incurable disease and are demonstrably capable of making their wishes felt and clearly do understand their situation.

And that is that. Causing or assisting the death of somebody who has not made their wishes publicly clear should be treated, at least initially, as murder. If there are exonerating circumstances, then the legal system is capable of recognising these. We are not, by and large an uncaring and punitive society.

The tribunal idea which the charity Dignity in Dying is investigating is a suggestion, and at the moment only that.

I believe it could help those unclear about the law and the guidelines, and also act as a gentle filter, identifying the hypothetical pressured grannies that opponents of assisted dying continue to summon up as an argument, but also perhaps to suggest that a future that currently looks dark may yet be improved. I suspect that the majority of people seeking assisted death will be individuals in every sense of the word, looking for an organised death after a productive and organised life. I'm probably one of them. But I must say, it is a pleasure to meet other people with PCA, even if only to share anecdotes with those who truly know where you're coming from. A trouble shared is not halved, whatever the proverb says, but at least it is understood.

The generation currently sliding into old age must surely be the first one ever to grow up unfamiliar with the realities of death. It has been hidden away, not spoken of, not acknowledged. It would be better for our mental health to do so.

I can just remember, when I was a child, that sometimes you would see somebody wearing a black band around their arm, as a sign of mourning. I've seldom seen them as an adult. But now the task of dying is left to us, we might as well get good at it.

On a more cheerful note, I'm working my way through the second draft of I Shall Wear Midnight, but as ever fighting for writing time among all the other calls. I shall be back on the sofa of the One Show on Thursday 11th February at 7pm on BBC One and I hope to get my Seamstresses Guild Crest before bumping into Christine Bleakley again :)

Late News: We've been told that my sword is ready for viewing; I couldn't have any hand in the making of the horn hilt or the silverwork. Sadly, I won't get to see it until next week.

All the best.

Terry Pratchett

Seeing Joe Patterson's comments about fixing Clarecraft models has prompted Mark Ayling to write in to let us know that he too is still doing repairs and is still making Iconographs and Death's clock and lots of other Discworld artefacts and also non-Discworld items. Mark's got a website

Snowgum Films (the guys who made Run Rincewind Run!) have released a teaser trailer for their long awaited Discworld fan film of Troll Bridge.

The teaser trailer covers the "fannish" portion of the film, which looks at one of the wars Cohen and Mica reminisce about in the original short story when both of them were a lot younger. This portion of the film is an obvious parody clash between Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian.

The trailer has since garnered a lot of attention:

"The teaser trailer that Daniel Knight and his team have created, has shown what they intend to achieve through their live action feature film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Troll Bridge. The trailer is beautifully shot and suggests the promise and potential of this mind blowing story. I feel this trailer raises the interest in the film and it could ultimately be a wonderful and dramatic take on this much loved tale."

- Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop

Snowgum are sticking to their guns in attempting to create "The Most Epicest Short Film Ever", and are currently working on obtaining additional funding so they can shoot the old Cohen stuff around the New Zealand mountains!

You can see the teaser trailer at:

Terry was in the Guardian on Thursday 25th Feb welcoming clarification of the assisted suicide guidelines in the UK.

"Sir Terry Pratchett wants to win control of how his own story ends" is the headline in The Times on February 6th. The interview takes place in a Wiltshire pub. You've got to love a man that writes about being discovered lying head on his computer keyboard by either his PA Rob or his wife. And them saving the work in progress before checking for a pulse.

The Telegraph reports that the BBC has been accused of 'promoting euthanasia by ignoring rights of disabled' after airing Terry's Richard Dimbleby Lecture. One does have to wonder if the people
making the complaints actually watched the lecture and listened to what Terry had to say?

Terry has written to MPs urging them to adopt the Digital Economy Bill especially the part that talks about piracy.

Dominic Lawson, columnist for The Sunday Times, has written a vitriolic article attacking Terry for his views on assisted dying. Mr Lawson asked if it is possible to remove national treasure status and if so wants to nominate Terry.

Discworld Dates...

This section will contain events that you need to keep in your diary. Entries will remain until they go out of date. New entries will include the word [New] next to them. If this section gets too large we will start pruning entries.

[UK, Updated] The Broken Drummers is a London Discworld Group that meets once a month on a Monday evening. Membership is free - just come along. New members and visitors to London are both welcome and encouraged.

The next meeting will be on Monday 1st March at The Monkey Puzzle, Paddington, London, W2 1JQ.


[AU, Updated] The Drummers Downunder, the Sydney sister of the Broken Drummers, will have their next meeting on Monday 1st March from 7pm at Maloneys on the corner of Pitt & Goulburn Streets (across the road from World Square), Sydney, Australia. Visitors to Sydney are also very welcome. For more information please contact Sim Lauren

[UK] Waterside Theatre Company - based at Holbury, near Southampton in Hampshire - will be performing their fourth Pratchett/Briggs production, this time Maskerade.

The show is on from 20th - 22nd May 2010 at Waterside Theatre Holbury.

Waterside Theatre Company have won awards for all three of their Discworld productions but their most successful was Guards! Guards! which won Best Newcomer for Carrot, Best Set and Props, Best Lighting and Effects and Production of the Year in the Southern Daily Echo Curtain Call Awards!

More information at:

[UK, New] The Really Necessary Travelling Actors are performing Wyrd Sister at the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth from Tuesday 27 July to Saturday 31 July 2010. Curtain 19:30

Box Office 02392 649000

Tickets: All seats 11 GBP (Concess 9 GBP)

[UK] Wadfest 2010 takes place from 20th - 22nd August 2010 at Trentfield Farm, Notts.

[UK] The 2010 Discworld Convention will take place from 27th - 30th August 2010 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel.

[AU, Updated] The third Australian Discworld Convention will be held on 8th, 9th and 10th April 2011 at the Penrith Panthers conference centre in Penrith, NSW.

Keep checking in at for information as the website will be updated gradually, and the draft list of events has aready been posted. Join the forums and get ready for the upcoming Inter-Guild online Scavenger hunt

Registration is now open at early bird prices, and a draft programme of events has been added to the website.

Volunteers needed. Contact (no mimes - by order of the Patrician). Want to help publicise this Convention in your area? Contact

Daily teaser tweets - follow @nullusanxietas3 on Twitter

[DE, New] The German Discworld Convention 2011 will take place from 30th September to 3rd October 2011. Assassins will roam the halls of Castle Bilstein but they promise not to harm visitors of the 3rd German Discworld Convention during that time (except when contracted). More details will follow in the upcoming months.

Small Ads...

Please note, DWM has no way of checking the veracity or validity of any of the items in our small ads section. As always, exercise caution when giving out your details over the Internet. We *strongly* recommend parental supervision for younger readers who
follow up any of these contacts.

Sarah writes: I have a copy of Discworld Noir for PC, which I was intending to sell online until I remembered why I hadn't played it in so long - the first CD has a big scratch around the diameter of the disc (unfixable by any means I know of). The other two CDs, and the box are in pristine condition so, on an off-chance, I wondered whether anyone out there has a similar situation, but with CD 1 in working order, and would like the other two CDs? Happy to post them free to anyone who wants them; I'd rather they were used rather than chucking the whole thing in the bin. If you're interested please email me.

Roger Baldwin writes: I have a (nearly) pristine copy of the video cassettes of Wyrd Sisters, Double Boxed Set, which since I no longer have a VCR I want to GIVE AWAY. First email by date and time received gets them. Put Wyrd Sisters in the subject line. I will only acknowledge the 'winner' No reply - too late!

I hope you are able to help me here, as I cannot be bothered to ebay, and am reluctant to just throw away.

I also want to give away a large suitcase of s/h mixed books, mainly but not only fantasy (NO Pratchett books here!). Live in Basildon Essex area.

3. Readers' Letters

If you have any letters or comments, please email them to

We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated, including the sender's email address. We may also edit your letters very quickly.

It is vitally important that you don't pass off other people's work as your own. If you use information from other resources please let us know so we can give proper credit.

The best letter of the month will receive a Kiss the Cook print supplied as by Bonsai Trading. Sadly Bonsai Trading is no longer trading but John Pagan has kindly supplied me with a number of prints to give away.

* From: "Roy Spearman"
I watched the Derek Dimbleby Lecture given by Sir Terry and his stunt Pratchett, not wholly knowing what to expect except that anything penned by Sir T would be brimming with wit, acute observation and, where totally unavoidable, irrefutable and well researched facts. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed.

I am happy to admit that I was unprepared for the anecdotes from Sir T surrounding his late father's final days but can see where Terry inherited his sense of humour from. While the pathology of cancer and Alzheimer's are completely different, the common effect of ultimately reducing the victim to a helpless, dependant human vegetable, unable to fend for themselves or take any action to alleviate or end their suffering, can surely only be considered a state to be avoided at all costs.

I find myself unable to do anything but agree with Sir Terry's position of supporting the idea of an independent panel to assess cases where those suffering from incurable conditions can apply to be allowed to choose the time and manner of their departure from the world, a panel made up of medical practitioners with the necessary experience, lawyers expert in the family arena and some form of social worker who would be able to advise the panel following a visit to the applicant in their own environment.

Being a natural sceptic and having had experience of bureaucracy at most levels of local and national government, I suspect that applications to any such panel would take months if not years to be heard and assessed. This in itself would surely make using such a system impractical should some nefarious relative hope to abuse it through applying pressure and suggestion to the applicant that they are a burden.

For me, assisted dying isn't only about ending suffering but also about giving people dignity in death. I used to be a member of a very well known voluntary aid organisation who used to train regularly with the London Ambulance Service both as partner and supplying victims to play act injuries, etc. In scenarios where there were multiple patients to be assessed, rescued, treated, extricated, etc, a system known as triage is employed. Within this system, horrible as it is to think, there is a grade of assessment which has a black indicator card. On it in white writing is the word "DEAD". Now I won't go into graphic detail about the guidelines for using that grade, but suffice to say it can be used for patients still alive but who for one reason or another simply cannot be saved in or from that environment. Those patients so graded then get a medic, ambulance attendant, paramedic, nurse, policeman (if they're REALLY unlucky), fireman, in fact just about anyone involved in the rescue effort that can be spared to stay with them, comfort them and give them what care they can. This is nothing to do with seeing if they improve - that's not going to happen. This is about caring for the terminally injured person at a level of humanity that anyone would wish for their own relative and when the person succumbs to their condition, dealing with their remains in a dignified and considerate way. Covering the deceased's remains with a sheet or blanket isn't about protecting other people from the sight of a corpse, and it sure as hell is a pretty poor way to preserve evidence for the boys in white paper suits; it's about preventing the sight of a dead body becoming a source of macabre gawping, depriving the deceased of their last shred of dignity.

If we do all this at sites of natural disasters, terrorist atrocities and major accidents, why dear God do we not allow those with terminal illness to choose the same level of dignity when they reach the end of their lives, instead insisting that the unfortunate person be subjected to ever increasing amounts of medication, mechanical interventions and a whole troop of medical specialists and carers. If the patient wants to try and prolong their lives, let that be their decision - not the Law's.

If you've not seen or heard this heart-string tugging lecture, please search the internet for it and set aside an hour to properly take in its message.

You may be pro assisted dying, you may be against. Personally I'm pro-choice. Sir Terry - bravo sir. Bravo.

* From: "John Dell"
Are there any plans to re-licence a sculptor to produce Discworld figurines following the visit of the Death of Companies to Clarecraft 5 years ago? After all there are 5 more years of characters to work on now......

* From: "William Bliss"
If you have read 'Unseen Academicals' then you will appreciate life imitating art in the recent election held in Massachusetts, USA to find a replacement for the late Senator Edward M Kennedy who recently died in office. The Kennedy family, including President JFK has/have* dominated Massachusetts and national politics for decades. In this special election the main contest was between a Republican (who won) and a Democrat (who didn't), but the candidate of interest here was the minority Independent candidate Joe Kennedy who is no relation to the famous Kennedy family.

In each and every news report covering the campaign, whenever the candidates were named, newsreaders meticulously pointed out that this Joe Kennedy was no relation to the late Senator Kennedy. Over time this was shortened to, "...and Joe Kennedy, no relation," exactly as Sir Terry had put forth for our guidance in UU. This catch phrase was repeated literally thousands of times over the campaign, and, to me, became funnier and funnier with each repetition.

* ...depending on your continent.

DWM replies: William gets this month's Letter of The Month.

* From: "Sarah Garrison"
Just wanted to say that I was the lucky fan who asked the man himself which character he thought his personality was most similar to at the talk at the National Theatre. His reply was Commander Vimes, as Jessica Yates interpreted, but on a bad day, Granny Weatherwax (not the Grim Squeaker as previously suggested).

I just wanted to say thanks to all those at DWM and PJSMPrints for making me aware of the talk because it was a really enjoyable and thrilling experience.

* From: "Phil Barker"
Once again Terry has affected the real world. I'm looking at a photo in a defence magazine of a prototype of the Boston Dynamics "Big Dog", an infantry supply walking machine carrying 150kg at up to 11kph, accompanying riflemen across country. It looks uncannily like the Luggage, except that it has only 4 legs. Whether it has homicidal tendencies remains to be seen...

* From: "Mieneke Boots"
Last month Thomas Abrahamsen wrote about a sign that read "word ook fan".

Being Dutch, I do know what the sign means! "word ook fan" means "be a fan too", with the word "ook" being "also" or "too". I never realised the potential for PTerry fans in this word, as it is very common in the Dutch language.

To complete the information: a Dutch energy company has a product called "Svenergy" where you get a discount on your energy price when Sven Kramer wins a gold medal in the Olympics.

DWM replies: Mineke was one of many, many people that wrote in to tell us what "ook" means in Dutch. Thanks for all the correspondence.

* From: "John Negus"
I have recently been browsing 'The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld' and came across the problem with Pi as originally mentioned in Pyramids. At about 3am the following morning it occurred to me that the reason why Pi is the ridiculous figure that it is, rather than the nice neat number 3, is simply due to a minor dysfunction in human perception. It would appear that our visual awareness is distorted by about 10%* in the vertical axis. This means that what we perceive as a circle is in fact very slightly elliptical. The 10% distortion means that the circumference is exactly 3 times the size of the major axis. Clearly what the Creator intended in the first place.

The moral of this is that cheese and Pratchett at bedtime do not mix!

* For the sake of accuracy the figure is actually closer to 9.087690496167%

4. DiscTrivia

This month I'm asking you to name the book from the quote.

It was hard to drown in the Ankh, but easy to suffocate.
"I could've been a wolf you know," said Gaspode, "with diff'rent parents of course"
People came to Ankh-Morpork to seek their fortune. Unfortunately, other people sought it too.
Sam Vimes had heard they made sherry by letting wine go rotten. He couldn't see the point of sherry.
"the One Horseman and Three Pedestrians of the Apocralypse."

The results, as always, appear at the end of this issue.

5. Review: Going Postal - Progress Theatre Reading

Reviewed by Jennie Bushnell

Stephen Briggs has done a fantastic job of adapting Going Postal for the stage - he kept all the best lines from the book as well as losing none of the magic of the story. The essence of Pratchett remained throughout There were plenty of laughs from the audience - myself included!

Given that it is a small venue I was really impressed with the sets. The set changes were carried out with amazing speed and efficiency. I thought that the Broken Drum sign in the bar was an excellent touch - especially when it had been changed to the Mended Drum in the interval.

The casting was superb. Lord Vetinari (played by Dan Powell) was my particular favourite - he delivered his lines with all the deadpan aplomb that I imagined when I read the book. Moist Von Lipwig (Owen Goode) was also brilliant - he had just the right mix of smooth charm and slight panic for the beleaguered postmaster! The rest of the cast were outstanding - many of them having two or more roles.

That was my first experience of the Shinfield Players and it certainly won't be my last! I spoke to a lady there who had come all the way from North London so I can only imagine that news is spreading fast about them.

We also received the following review by Jane Deal

Characterisations were good and performed by a very talented troupe. I was particularly impressed by Vetinari, Drumknott, Moist and Stanley - all perfectly cast.

Groat was played successfully by a female actress with a suitably 'perched' toupe and Mr Pump was well done, raising many an (intended) laugh from the audience.

Lines were well delivered with good comic timing and the play maintained a good pace.

The depiction of Igor didn't quite work for me. Not only did he have the tradithional lithp, but also seems to have adopted the manic laugh normally the territory of 'marthters' which was a little overplayed. Gryle wasn't menacing enough which was a shame.

The backdrop and props were simple but effective with slick scene changes. Must have been challenging with no curtains and so many scenes to get through! I'd certainly make the journey to see them these players in action again. Enjoy!

6. Review: Shaking Hands With Death - Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2010

Reviewed by Alexandra

This was everything I expected from Sir Terry. I'm sure if I was suffering a terminal illness and had his fame etc I would have said something very similar, though not as eloquently.

Finally, a logical, humanitarian and humorous argument for assisted death. Our society is predominantly made up of the over 60's, we have a shortfall of under 16 year olds, our labour market is diminishing and people are frightened of seeming callous by agreeing to the whole assisted death topic. I've told my family I want to have 'the plug pulled' should I become incapable, too dependent or similar.

Sir Terry spoke (via Tony Robinson) without callousness, without pith, with maybe a little ire, about choice, dignity and bowing out peacefully.

I for one will be making a living will and testament in the hope that if I ever need it, someone will assist me on my way - after all, it might just be the beginning of a very big adventure!

Somebody has helpfully uploaded the programme in six parts to YouTube. See:

7. Review: Live Broadcast of Nation on 30th January 2010

Reviewed by Jessica Yates.

Having seen a preview as soon as the play opened, I hadn't planned to go again, but when the 30th came round I found myself queuing for a day seat hoping that there would be extra treats for the playgoers. First of all, I found that all seats in the house were 10 GBP, not just the day seats, so I got one close to the stage on the left. Then I found that the cinema monitor screen was just by me, so that I could see the stage, or the choice of filmed views from different angles, just by turning my head. And my head was certainly ready to be turned in my second experience of Nation!

First a stage manager came on to rehearse us in our responses, such as applause and laughter. We were encouraged to laugh, not just smile. Then we were asked to produce our mobile phones and turn them firmly off!

The main monitor screen showed some preliminary interviews, first with Melly Still the director / designer and Mark Ravenhill the adapter, and then with Terry about how the book began, how he was fascinated by the Victorian and Edwardian eras, times of so much development.

Then we saw a film of the actors who play Mau and Daphne visiting the Royal Society premises. They saw Newton's telescope, a model of the Beagle, and a South Sea Island dictionary where they noted that 'mau' was a word for 'shark'. Emily Taaffe then spoke of the process of rehearsal which was not done chronologically, but the dancing and puppeteering was done separately. Then we uttered an outburst of coughing, and then the play proper began, with new scenes to explain why Mau and Daphne were where they were when the tsunami hit. This time I was looking out for the villain and the parrot from the outset, and also noticed a lady in a false bosom portraying the ship's figurehead. I really admired the cast's energy after having done so many performances already.

In the interval the two winners of the home-made film competition about Mau's and Daphne's first meeting were shown on the monitors, the first done with plasticine figures, and second with girls acting both roles. Then we had some shots of rehearsals, including Mau fighting Cox, and a demonstration of the puppetry, and then the Second Act began. I hope that many of you managed to see Nation on one of the 220 screens which they told us were showing it worldwide.

8. The End

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Unseen Academicals

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* Disc Trivia Results *

It was hard to drown in the Ankh, but easy to suffocate.
"I could've been a wolf you know," said Gaspode, "with diff'rent parents of course"
The Fifth Elephant
People came to Ankh-Morpork to seek their fortune. Unfortunately, other people sought it too.
Soul Music
Sam Vimes had heard they made sherry by letting wine go rotten. He couldn't see the point of sherry.
"the One Horseman and Three Pedestrians of the Apocralypse."

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