Oscar and I have been reading A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett.
It’s my favourite of the Discworld books. Possibly one of my favourite books ever. There are many reasons to love it, tough, brilliant women characters for a start. It’s funny, and clever and sad and brilliant and it’s all about what it is to be human. And the magic? Well, the magic is in being human too. Here’s my favourite part. Here’s what Granny Weatherwax has to say about magic, and she is right.
‘She cares about ’em. Even the stupid, mean, dribbling ones, the mothers with the runny babies and no sense, the feckless and the silly and the fools who treat her like some kind of servant. Now that’s what I call magic – seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ’em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ’em up, layin’ ’em out, making ’em neat for the funeral and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets – which is, let me tell you, no job for the faint-hearted – and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cos his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and centre of witchcraft that is. The soul and centre!’ Mistress Weatherwax smacked her fist into her hand, hammering out her words. ‘The…soul…and…centre!’
Echoes came back from the trees in the sudden silence. Even the grasshoppers by the side of the track had stopped sizzling.
‘And Mrs Earwig,’ said Mistress Weatherwax, her voice sinking to a growl, ‘Mrs Earwig tells her girls it’s about cosmic balances and stars and circles and colours and wands and…toys, nothing but toys!’ She sniffed. ‘Oh, I daresay they’re all very well as decoration, somethin’ nice to look at while you’re workin’, somethin’ for show, but the start and finish, the start and finish, is helpin’ people when life is on the edge. Even people you don’t like. Stars is easy, people is hard.’