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Museum Selfie 2

Shannan Rodda

Believe it – this special story is worth reading to the very end!

In February 2017, a documentary was aired detailing the life of my favourite author; Sir Terry Pratchett. Little did I know that after the airing of “Terry Pratchett: Back in Black” that a special announcement would be made. Fans were being given a wonderful gift; an insight in to Terry’s life and this gift was being presented as an exhibition at the Salisbury Museum.

To consider myself a fan is a bit of an understatement; to be frankly honest, Terry’s writing saved my life. I was already a fan of the Discworld and had read through the series a number of times. I live with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Whilst I live with these conditions I manage them well and am considered high functioning.  I’ve even been able to go without medication for a few years now and keep myself on track with regular visits to my psychologist and GP.

An event 5 years ago triggered a relapse and my world crashed down around me. I was so down and the world was bleak, bland and in my mind, tomorrow didn’t exist. I would stare out my window for hours waiting for the time to pass or I passed the time by sleeping. When thought finally made its way through the thick and sticky emotions I was feeling at the time I was able to make one small decision; read. Go back to the Disc and just read. With each page I was able to make a reconnect with myself even if it wasn’t for long. The series kept me going, and again being frankly honest, stopped me from “checking out”.

I have so much love for the Disc and its characters, that I have a full tattoo sleeve dedicated to it. All my favourite characters from Samuel Vimes to Granny Weatherwax to Death.  I estimate between 50 and 54 hours of tattoo time was spent creating my Discworld sleeve. My sleeve is an ode and dedication to Terry, to his Discworld and to his characters. As well as to Paul Kidby and his amazing artwork. The characters mean much to me and my own world that I need them with me, always. If I’m having a bad day I can look down and smile and also be reminded of each character’s strengths.

So the announcement was made, ‘Terry Pratchett: HisWorld’ was coming to the Salisbury Museum in September 2017. Originally, I pushed it aside as a little pipe dream. Curiosity took hold when my mum showed me the Facebook post about the exhibition. Opening day was 7 months away. I started looking at flights. I knew that if I put all the savings I already had and cut back on a few spending habits that the trip was doable. The next day I went in to work and submitted my annual leave form. I had 5 weeks of annual leave available and hadn’t had a proper holiday in years. I asked for 4 weeks and they said no – the company had a new client coming on board and they didn’t know what to expect. After a bit of back and forth I was able to get two weeks leave approved.

When I was evaluating my life and the trip, what I wanted to see, do and experience, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do this with two weeks of annual leave. I was coming from a coastal suburban town about an hour south of Melbourne, Australia. That’s almost 17,000kms (10,500 miles) and a few thousand Australian dollars. Our conversion rate isn’t very strong against the British Pound (we’re currently sitting at 59 pence for every Aussie Dollar) so if I was going to spend the money for an adventure of a lifetime I was going to spend it well! So I resigned from my job of almost 6 years and decided to extend my trip to the four weeks I originally requested.

The plane journey was nice enough; let’s face it, no one likes being cooped up in a small space without much leg room. My flight left from Melbourne around 9.40pm on Wednesday 13 September. The first leg of the journey was about 14 hours. A short stopover in Doha and I was on another plane bound for London.  Another 7 and a half hours and I arrived in London at 12pm on Thursday 14 September.

Jet lag had hit me pretty hard that day. Not only was I tired but I was also a bit dizzy. It felt like the earth was moving from under my feet. I was up every hour or so that night and I was in a very noisy part of town. The night was filled with the sounds of trains and, this surprised me the most, emergency sirens. All night. It seemed like as soon as one stopped another would start. Because these sirens sound different to the ones at home and I didn’t know which siren was which. It made me feel very scared and unsafe. I hadn’t been there for very long at all and I was already feeling very uneasy about London.

My fears were heightened the next morning when I awoke to a message from my mum asking me where I was and if I was ok. The Parsons Green terror attack had just occurred. At that time it was being broadcast as an ‘incident’ with more information to come. I spent my time trying to find any information I could but everything was quite vague. I wasn’t keen to be catching a train an hour or so after I heard the news. Thankfully though, my train was still running and I was on my way to Salisbury.

The national rail trains are quite nice. I was super impressed that it had free Wifi. I was able to keep in touch with my mum and other friends who had heard about the London attack. I was surprised to see a snacks cart come through the carriages. We do have national rail services but because Australia is so large most people opt to go on a scenic road trip or fly. The journey was about an hour and half – this is about the same time it takes for me to get to Melbourne from my home town.

The day I arrived I went in search of the museum. I wanted to make sure I knew exactly where I was going because the next day was opening day and I did not want to get lost! Walking through the town on my way to the museum I came to the Cathedral. Oh my goodness! I had to crane my neck just to see the top. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a structure of that magnitude before. It just towers over you with its brilliance!

Opening day finally arrived! Months of planning and saving and it was finally here. I arrived a few minutes before opening and there were already a few people waiting in line. Rob Wilkins officially opened the exhibition. We passed through the museum shop and in to the exhibition. Seeing the His World entrance artwork which I believe is the cover art of the Terry Pratchett’s Imaginarium artwork book coming out in November was so exciting. I was about to cross the threshold in to HisWorld. I was going to see things that belonged to Terry. I was going to see a recreation of his office. I was going to see original artwork by Paul Kidby and Josh Kirby. I was going to be in super fan heaven! And I most certainly was.

See Shannan’s video here.        More next week….


Shannan Rodda

17 October 2017