Today I saw with great sadness that one of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, had passed away.

To say that he was a massive influence on my teenage years is something of an understatement. His books kept me sane when I moved from a bustling metropolitan area to a remote corner of England. I eagerly awaited each new volume, from about the publication of Mort onwards I devoured his output, with the assistance of the local library.

I was lucky, when I was 17 he visited my school. He gave a talk at the library, but also did a small session with a number of students keen on writing and his work. He told anecdotes about his time as a local reporter, and how those skills helped him as a writer. He told us about the time, during the great D&D scare of the 80s, he ran a roleplaying game for a group of 70-year old grannies to show them how it was harmless entertainment. He was inspiring, insightful and patient, even when we all wanted 20-odd books signing because we were stupidly obsessive teenage geeks.

He did it all for a reasonable donation to the campaign to save the orang-utans.

Towards the end of the event we mentioned we were producing a newspaper for our year's graduation and would he write some wise words for us. He did, and what he wrote in my hastily proffered notebook I still have today. A scan of it is shown below, it seems appropriate to share his rules of life with others on this sad occasion:

Rules of life: 1 - never trust a dog with orange eyebrows. 2 - consider you may be wrong. 3 - there is such a thing as too much cheese. 4 - Duck!

He will be missed. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

"A man is not dead while his name is still spoken"