Well, the Terry Pratchett:HisWorld exhibition has, all too soon, come to an end, and the army of Gallery Staff will be wondering what to do with all the spare time that has suddenly been bestowed upon them.
“Gods don’t like people not doing much work. People who aren’t busy all the time might start to think”.
A wonderful cameradie has developed among the Gallery Staff, and we are looking forward to meeting together again in the not too distant future, particularly as a colleague, Kara, was unable to be with us for the final week or two.
There were several quite crypic exhibits in the exhibition, the most emotive one being the encoded ‘embuggerance’ in Gallery 3. I liked to think that the reason for encoding this rude word was to avoid young children quizzing their parents as to its meaning. However, that theory was exploded when extra signage was placed right outside the café, pointing out the direction to the ‘Embuggerance’! It is astonishing how many people failed to notice this encoding. When asked whether they had noticed the significance of the letters in different font, some would reply, “Oh yes; they were the letters Terry couldn’t see very well!
Several of my colleagues were of the opinion that the term ‘embuggerance’ was coined by Sir Terry himself, but a Google search revealed that it was a military term dating back to the 1950s, but popularised following the 1990s Gulf War conflict when Andy McNab, formerly of the SAS, published his book Bravo Two Zero (2008).
I had already attended several shifts before I noticed another two further subtleties. One of these is that Gaspode the Wonder Dog, on the Interactive DiscWorld Massif says ’Woof’, when clicked. This was despite a massive clue in the second line down of the legend, which says, It looked up slowly and said ‘Woof!’. Having noticed this, I was disappointed that The Librarian doesn’t say ‘Ook’!
The other subtlety came to my attention late one afternoon when I was alone in Gallery 2, and wondered why I could hear birds twittering. It came, of course, from Terry’s office, where other sounds included sheep bleating and the cat purring. Several people asked, incidentally, where the cat slept now that Terry’s desk was in the Museum!
I was curious as to why there were two versions of Terry’s family motto. In Gallery 2, the family crest bore the motto, Non Timere Messorum, whereas the bronze bust in Gallery 3 bore the variant, Noli Timere Messorum. Resorting to Google again, I encountered various grammar nerds speculating that one means ‘Fear Not the Reaper’ whereas the other is subtly different and means ‘[I] do not fear the reaper’. Taking advantage of the presence of a visit by Paul Kidby one afternoon, I took the opportunity to ask him why Terry had these two versions. To my disappointment, he explained that the version on his armorial bearings hadn’t been properly considered, and was ‘dog Latin’, whereas they ensured it was grammatically correct for the bust. And there was I thinking that there must be a deep philosophical reason… .
However, the aspect that I most enjoyed explaining about the exhibition is how well it fitted with the raison d’etre of the Museum. Thus in his book, ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’, Terry describes a ‘chalk giant who isn’t wearing trousers, and he’s male; very definitely male!’. One realises immediately that this is the Cerne Abbas Giant, and, in the previous exhibition, ‘British Art Ancient Landscapes’, there had been a large painting of the Cerne Abbas Giant in Gallery 2. Also in that exhibition there was a painting by Eric Ravilious which depicted the ‘Long Man of Wilmington’ and an illustration of the Uffington White Horse… and what should be depicted on Paul Kidby’s painting, ‘The Chalk’ but the Uffington White Horse – in the top left hand corner. This painting was also chosen to replace the view out of Terry’s office window.
I’ve just become aware of how many exclamation marks I’ve used in this piece. To quote Sir Terry, “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind”!