– [p. 212/172] In the Disc model, Ankh-Morpork was a carbuncle. A carbuncle is (1) a red semiprecious gem, and (2) a festering sore like a boil. – [p. 221/180] “Alberto Malich, Founder of This University.” Albert’s name resonates slightly with our world’s Albertus Magnus (also known as Albert the Great).
Albertus Magnus (born in 1193 in Laufingen at the Donau, Germany), became known as ‘the Magician’ and was probably the most famous priest, philosopher and scientist of his time.
Amongst other things he taught at the University of Paris, was Bishop of Regensburg, and at the age of 84 he again undertook the long journey from Cologne to Paris to defend the scientific work of his greatest student, Thomas Aquinas, against attacks and misunderstandings. – [p. 224/183] “I don’t even remember walking under a mirror.” Superstition says that both walking under a ladder and breaking a mirror give bad luck.
Therefore, by the sort of skewed logic Terry continually gives to his characters, walking under a mirror must be really bad news. – [p. 226/184] “[…] purposes considerably more dire than, say, keeping a razor blade nice and sharp.” See the annotation for p. 35/35 of The Light Fantastic. + [p. 240/196] “He remembered being summoned into reluctant existence at the moment the first creature lived, in the certain knowledge that he would outlive life until the last being in the universe passed to its reward, when it would then be his job, figuratively speaking, to put the chairs on the tables and turn all the lights off.” Three years later, in 1990, Neil Gaiman’s Death says, in the story ‘Facade’: “When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting.
When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished.
I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.” – [p. 255/208] “IS THIS THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND SHIPS, AND BURNED THE TOPLESS TOWERS OF PSEUDOPOLIS? wondered Death.” A reference to Helen of Troy (or Tsort, I suppose I should say), over whom the Trojan War was started.
The exact original quote, from Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr.
Faustus, goes: “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!” Ilium is the Latin name for Troy. — – [p. 45/45] “He could send for Ptraci, his favourite handmaiden.” Should be pronounced with a silent ‘p’.
Note also that in the UK the name Tracey (Sharon, too) is often used to generically refer to the kind of girl immortalised in the “dumb blonde” jokes, or Essex Girl jokes as they are known in the UK. This annotation may also help explain why over on alt.fan.pratchett people regularly and affectionately refer to their Favourite Author as ‘Pterry’ (although the lazier participants usually just refer to him as TP, conforming to the sometimes bloody annoying Usenet habit of acronymising everything longer than two words or four characters, whichever comes first.
Hence DW stands for Discworld, TCOM for The Colour of Magic, and APF for Annotated Pratchett File—but you already knew that). I was later informed that ‘Pterry’ was also the name of a pterodactyl on a kids’ TV program called Jigsaw, but as far as I can recall Terry’s nickname was not coined with that in mind. – [p. 50/49] “It’s rather like smashing a sixer in conkers.” Conkers are the nuts of the Horse Chestnut—not the one you eat, the other one with the really spiky outer covering.
It is a regular autumn pass-time in England for school-boys to put conkers on the end of bits of string, and commence doing battle. The game of conkers is played by two players, almost always by challenge.
One player holds his conker up at arms length on the end of its bit of string, and the other player tries to swing his one with sufficient force to break the other player’s conker.
After a swing, roles are reversed.
Since this is a virtually solely male sport, whose participants’ average age is about seven (although there is a bunch of nutters who regularly get on local news programmes with their “world championship”), there is of course much potential for strategic ‘misses’ against the opponents knuckles, or indeed against almost any other part of his anatomy. In the (rather unlikely, usually) event of one conker breaking the other one, the winning conker becomes a ‘one-er’.
A conker which has won twice, is a ‘two-er’.
Hence a ‘sixer’ (although it must be remembered that there are of course the usual collection of bogus seventeeners and sixty-seveners which circulate the black market of the playing field).There is a black art as to how to ensure that your conker becomes a sixer — baking very slowly in the oven overnight, is one approach, as is soaking for a week in vinegar.
Most of these methods tend to make the conkers, if anything, more rather than less brittle.
There’s probably a lesson for us all in there somewhere. – [p. 50/49] The legend of Ankh-Morpork being founded by two orphaned brothers who had been found and suckled by a hippopotamus refers to the legend of Romulus and Remus who were two orphaned brothers raised by a wolf, who later went on to found Rome (the brothers did, not the wolf). – [p. 58/56] “Hoot Koomi, high priest of Khefin […] stepped forward.” The name Koot Hoomi (or Kuthhumi) is a Sanskrit word that means ‘teacher’. Koot Hoomi is the author of a series of letters that were published as The Mahatma Letters To A.
Sinnett, and which form the basis of many theosophical teachings. – [p. 63/62] “’Look, master Dil,’ said Gern, […]” Since not everyone is familiar with all those weird English food items, this is probably a good place to point out that there is a red line that runs from ‘Dil the Embalmer’ to ‘Dill the Pickler’ to ‘dill pickle’, a British delicacy. – [p. 64/62] “’Get it? Your name in lights, see?’”. — Typical Colemanballs include, “…He’s a real fighter, this lad, who believes that football’s a game of two halves, and that it isn’t over until the final whistle blows”, or during the test (cricket) matches, “And he’s coming up to bowl now…
The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey…”. (That last one wasn’t even by David Coleman, but still qualifies as a Colemanball). + [p. 197/189] “’Symposium’ meant a knife-and-fork tea.” Etymologically, a symposium is indeed a “get-together for a drink”.
Since the Greeks believed in lubricating intellectual discussion with drink, the term eventually came to be used for a meeting which combined elements of partying and intellectual interchange. – [p. 197/189] The Tsortean wars refer to the Trojan wars. (Read also Eric.
Or Homer.) – [p. 201/193] “A philosopher had averred that although truth was beauty, beauty was not necessarily truth, and a fight was breaking out.” A famous quotation from John Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’: “’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” + [p. 204/195] “[…] ships called the Marie Celeste, […]” The Marie Celeste left port in 1872 with a full crew, but was later found (by the crew of the Dei Gratia), abandoned on the open sea, with no crew, the single lifeboat missing, and half-eaten meals in the mess hall.
It was later discovered that captain Morehouse of the Dei Gratia had dined with the captain of the Celeste the night before she sailed, and Morehouse and his crew were eventually tried for murder, but acquitted because there was no hard evidence.
The missing crewmen were never found. + [p. 205/197] “And one of them had reputedly turned himself into a golden shower in pursuit of his intended.” According to Greek mythology the beautiful Danae had been locked away in a dungeon by her father (King Acrisius of Argos) because a prophecy had foretold that his grandson would slay him.
But Zeus, King of the Gods, came upon Danae in a shower of gold, and fathered Perseus upon her. – [p. 250/239] “’Go, tell the Ephebians—‘ he began.” This is a paraphrase of “Go tell the Spartans”, which is the beginning of the memorial for the Spartan soldiers who got massacred by the Persians at Thermopylae as a result of Greek treachery.
The full quote is given by Simonides (5th century BC) as: — – [p. 353/253] “’You know, sir, sometimes I think there’s a great ocean of truth out there and I’m just sitting on the beach playing with…
With stones.’” This paraphrases Isaac Newton.
The original quote can be found in Brewster’s Memoirs of Newton, Volume II, Chapter 27: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” – [p. 363/261] “’Go ahead, […] bake my quiche.’” Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry again, another satire of the line which also inspired “FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC” (see the annotation for p. 51/48 of Guards! Guards!). – [p. 364/261] “’On with the motley.
Magrat’ll appreciate it.’” “On with the motley” is a direct translation of the Italian “Vesti la giubba” which is the first line of a famous aria from the opera I Pagliacci. (Operatic arias are usually known by their first line or first few words).
It is the bitter aria in which the actor Canio laments that he must go on stage even though his heart is breaking, and climaxes with the line ‘Ridi Pagliaccio’. – [p. 367/264] “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones.
They are not all that subtle.” Definitely a Tolkien reference this time.
See the annotation for p. 183/149 of Mort. There is a version frequently seen on the net in people’s .signatures, which I am sure will have Terry’s full approval.
It runs: “Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer”. + [p. 371/267] “’My great-grandma’s husband hammered it out of a tin bath and a couple of saucepans.’” On a.f.p.
The question was asked why, if Magrat’s armour was fake and not made of iron at all, was it so effective against the Elves? Terry answers: “A tin bath isn’t made out of tin.
It’s invariably galvanised iron—ie, zinc dipped.
They certainly rust after a while.” – [p. 382/274] “[…] he called it The Taming Of The Vole […]” Shakespeare again, of course.
A vole is a small animal, somewhat similar to a shrew. Men At Arms
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