Saturday 27 October 2007


It must be something to do with this time of year (or too many recent dealings with hospitals!) but I came across a quote the other day by Robert Alton Harris, who wrote:

You can be a king or a street sweeper,
But everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.

This reminded me of an exchange I once had with Discworld author, TERRY PRATCHETT, during an interview for a BBC book programme.

We were talking about DEATH, who appears as a character in many of the Discworld novels and who - contrary to expectations - has a butler (Albert), an adopted daughter (Ysabell), an assistant (Mort), a pale horse (Binky) and lives in a black-and-white, suburban villa with a golf course and a pond containing a skeletal trout!

"Just supposing," I said to Pratchett, "that the door to this studio was to suddenly whisper open and DEATH was to come in and lay his bony hand on your shoulder, what would you do?"

"Well," replied Pratchett, "there's nothing I could do! But that wouldn't matter, because I long ago learned to take life as it comes!"

He paused and then, with a wry smile, added: "Which, of course, when you think about it, is exactly what DEATH does: takes life as it comes!"


Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed Pratchett's characterisation of death.

And his hats.

Boll Weavil said...

During my time as a custodian of records of the county coroner, the one thing I learned was that Death often walked hand in hand with Lady Luck.Only when they split up,did you have a problem. I saw the results of crossing the road without looking, coughing whilst running for a bus, swinging on an unsafe wall and riding your bike without lights. Sometimes it just seems to be luck that divides us from those who came to the coroner's attention.Once I interviewed a veteran of the Great War who was talking about having survived the Battle of the Somme. He likened it to a farmer harvesting wheat.When he has driven the tractor and blades around the whole of the field to see it all flattened, there are always some isolated stalks, that for some reason, are still standing on their own - dotted across the whole of the fallen. No one knows how they came to survive but they just did...