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Here’s hoping Death really does ride a horse called Binky…

August 4, 2009
The cover of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Mort.

The cover of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Mort.

Death stalks us all of course. Personally I’m comforted by Terry Pratchett’s anthropomorphic personification, with his fascination with people, his horse called Binky and his professional attitude. The Death of the Discworld is never sentimental – not even about cats and he does like cats – but neither is he callous. I’m not saying I won’t emit a little whimper if the first thing I see post-mortem is a 7ft-skeleton with blue glowing eye-sockets, but he beats some of the other images people have conjured up over the centuries.

I hope too, that when Terry takes his final walk into the garden (or library “if wet”) with his brandy and Thomas Tallis on the iPod (he’s been writing about assisted death in the Mail on Sunday) that he too will be comforted by the thought of his creation scything through his lifeline and freeing him from this mortal coil. Even as I type this – rather moist about the eyes I’m afraid – it’s a heart-warming thought that Death would be waiting patiently on the garden bench to give this beloved author, his creator,  a final moment of dignity.

I suspect too, that Death will have turned out personally* for Cory Aquino – the woman who toppled the Marcos regime in the Phillipines – as she died on Saturday.

[* If you’re not familiar with the protocols of Discworld’s Death, it’s a bit like being a monarch. You don’t have to be everywhere in the land to rule it all, but you are expected to put in regular appearances. But look, Terry does this a thousand times better than me – go and read his books. Actually Mort is a good place to start AND it features Death in a starring role.]

I expect he was there, hourglasses in hand, for the tragedy in Tel Aviv on Saturday night too. Death may not be able to hand down justice, but here’s hoping the Israeli justice system does – it’s the least that Nir Katz and Liz Tarabushi deserve.

Touched by any of these thoughts? Then head over to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and make a donation. Your money can help hasten a cure and perhaps save your loved ones from becoming caught in the wretched grip of this disease. You can also write to your MP asking them to sign an Early Day Motion calling for a debate on assisted dying.

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