Posted on May 12, 2005.

I haven't written anything for a while, but that's because there hasn't been anything good to write about (well.. that's probably a lie; both Flo's and Sam's parties were great. But they're not really good journal material). Until today. Today, after school, Ted, Phil, Bish and my good self undertook a journey into town to see - if all went to plan - the singular Terry Pratchett. We bummed around town for a bit, running errands, and got into the queue that was just outside Red Lion Books at twenty-to-five, with the signing due to begin at five. Unfortunately, we got stuck just in front of a man that can only be described accurately as Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. It's not very nice, but it's true. He told us about how he was going to ask a question that had been "driving him insane" ("In the Hogfather, when Susan talks to {Some Character}, the narrative just says that she asks him a question. What's that question!!?!"). Bish and Phil knew the answer, but he asked it anyway - and they turned out to be right. He also needed a good slap as after the signing started, when the queue was moving slowly, and he complained about "Little Old Ladies asking too questions - get your book signed, and get the hell out!" I wanted to point out that he, by his own admission, was going to ask a question, but didn't.

The atmosphere was really good. We spotted some people from school (including Pagie) in the queue behind us, which was nice. We were just outside the door, and we were getting into the swing of it when we saw some polearms in the distance. Wondering what they were, we peered round the edge of the queue, to be greeted by four members and the Commander of the Watch! They filed in, and then guarded the door. A lovely touch was that they each had a sprig of lilac on their uniform (a reference to Night Watch). We were right next to one of them guarding the door, who we hounded with some innane chatter. Phil asked him "How long is your polearm?" and received the wry reply "I don't know; I've never measured it". Comic Book Guy asked what the Night Watch was doing out in the day - the retort he was greeted with was that "We have to work during the day. We're usually in the Pub come later." They then departed round the back of the store to get their signed books, but soon returned for more guarding action. We were told that we could buy books inside; I was the only one out of the four of us that had any money, so to show willing I bought two books - the one he was signing today (A Hat Full of Sky) and the one that comes before it (The Wee Free Men). I had brought my prizegiving, hardback, Thief of Time for him to sign, but it was at this point that I rued the fact that I forgot I have a Wee Free Men poster which is the size and shape of a door. I'd have loved to get that signed but, alas, it was not to be. Still, I retuned to the queue and waited

The queue extended down the stairs and looped once downstairs, but once we got inside it felt as if we were getting closer disproportionate to the progress we were making and was cooler to boot; standing in the sun outside was both irritating and hot. At the bottom of the stairs, we could see him - which was almost a reward in itself. We amused ourself with the Classics shelf, mocking Ted for what he has read, and reminisced about books we had read a long time ago. Around this time, we came to the general consensus that Phil should go first out of the four of us - because the rest of us were scared. Because of the weird queue, we got close to Pratchett and then further away again - serving to merely taunt us. Still, it gave us time to think about what to get signed; I came up with the sensational idea to get a piece of card signed by Pratchett and to use it as the Einstein says for tomorrow. But where do we get card in the middle of a queue for an author? From my pocket! I was carrying around the deck we use to play 1000 blank cards which - thankfully! - had some blank cards in it. As I was getting two books signed, Phil was making a special request, and Ted was getting two books signed, the request for the card rested on Bish's shoulders. Ted also finalised his plan for Sam Waterson's book; he would get a traditional 'To Sam' on the normal page, but then on the following page there would be "To No Face" - which is, of course, what we (affectionately!) call Sam. We were now close enough to hear what Pratchett was saying to various people. One woman walked up and said "I'm so excited!". Pratchett replied "It's been a long time since a woman has said that to me...". Also around this time, we decided that (perhaps unfairly) to irritate the man behind us to take our time. Very soon, it was our turn to meet good ol' TP.

Phil went first, and asked for his map to be signed really big. He duly did so, and added a "You are here" and an arrow pointing to Ankh-Morpork, which was pretty cool. Phil introduced himself by saying "How's it going? Can you make this out really big to Phil, please?" Pratchett asked him who he was, and when told the answer replied "OH! You're Phil". Phil also asked him to put on his hat to have a photo taken - which he agreed to - because "[it's] totally the best hat ever". Pratchett's reply was that Phil was obviously "One cool dude". Phil admitted that he was "down with the lingo", but soon wondered why on earth he did so. Bish went next, and got his book (The Last Continent) signed to Bish - and asked him to sign the piece of card to the school. Tomorrow's Einstein is going to be "To CRGS. Yo! Terry Pratchett". The 'Yo' was off his own bat, impressively - possibly after contact with Phil. At this point, we weren't taking any longer than we had to, but any chance of ours to annoy the guy behind us was taken out of his hands; both Terry Pratchett's phone went off and a flunkie appeared. Ted and I listened to the flunkie conversation, who appeared to be appologising for something and asking for two days off; the reply he got back was "Ok. But you better tell me everything come Monday, otherwise I'll kill you. But I'll probably delegate it to you, so you'll likely be okay". He then informed us how no-one else would employ the flunkie and he did it out of pity. Resuming the signing, he signed both books of mine ("Deja Fu" in the Thief of Time, and "Crivens" in A Hat Full of Sky, in addition to 'To Alex' in both with his signature). Finally, it was Ted, who got Night Watch made out to Ted ("You had to be there...") and Sam's book made out exactly how we wanted it. We just hope Sam isn't going to kill us. After being more successful than we could possibly imagine, we all left happy. We were soon caught up by Comic Book Guy outside, who told us about his question. We wanted to go taunt Pagie and Alex that we had got our books signed, but in the end we settled for talking to SAEG - the kid who hates both Phil and myself. That was mildly satisfying. And then, after standing for 90 minutes, Bish and I decided to walk home, which was pleasant as the weather was amiable. Entering at seven, a long and most excellent day drew to a close.

But only six more days of school! I really don't want it to end, as I have said before; I don't really have anything to add on top of what I've said in previous entries.