The Cake Project Part 2: Sir Terry Pratchett

So, I’d met Neil Gaiman, and 14 year old me was halfway there on her life goal quest, owning a twice-signed copy of Good Omens.

The only problem was that part two of the plan involved tracking down a world famous author who had Alzheimers and was probably not doing much touring due to recent aid diagnosis. At any rate, meeting Neil had been a fluke! No way I could pull that one off again.
But in November my father got an email from someone in TCD (Trinity College Dublin, full ‘official’ name – The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin) where he worked saying that Terry Pratchett was receiving an honorary doctorate of English and there were limited tickets available to go and see him give a talk. Some how (Probably through dark magics) my father got me two tickets. Now believe it or not, I had barely any friends at the time who were into Terry Pratchett at the time, and I ended up with a choice of two, one of my best friends or the lad I was dating. I ended up given them to Nadia, a choice I never regretted seeing as me and her had a brilliant time, and me and the lad broke up not long after.
The night before I was going up to Dublin, I did some baking and stayed up most of the night painting an ice cream box to put the biscuits I’d made into. I painted it, painstakingly and quite impressively for the lack of artistry I generally showed, with things from the Discworld, there was the Luggage, Rincewind’s ‘wizzard’ Hat, the Discworld itself, and something else that fails to spring to mind. Biscuits boxed and bagged along with a letter I wrote Sir Terry and a bunch of books in my bag I was ready.

The talk was brilliant, when I saw Terry Pratchett talk a second time his PA had to give most of the talk as Terry’s Alzheimers had progressed further. But when I saw him in 2008 he was brilliant. But the point of our story comes at the end of his talk. He’d finished the talk and was getting ready to walk out down the central aisle. There was going to be a wine reception in The Long Room afterwards but it was unclear whether Terry Pratchett would be there, I got very worried that this was my only chance ever to give the biscuits to Terry Pratchett, As he walked out I asked Nadia if I should give it to him then, and playings devil’s advocate she said yes.
I ran across a row of chairs and jumped into the aisle in front of him, holding out the bag saying “I made you cookies!”, he smiled and laughed, saying “I suppose I’d better give you a kiss then!” and kissed me on the cheek, before walking out.

He was at the wine reception, and I got my copy of Good Omens signed by him, just beneath Neil Gaiman’s signature.

Coming next The Cake Project Part 3: Bell X1

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The Cake Project Part 1: Neil Gaiman

When I was 14 my mam asked what I wanted to do with my life, I replied by saying I thought I would set myself small scale, enjoyable and achievable goals. She looked skeptical at first and only grew more so after I told her my first set of life goals; To meet Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and have them both sign my copy of Good Omens. Until this point in my life I had horribly bad luck with meeting my heroes. Most of them were dead. J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, Pete McCarthy, Richard Feynman. But this time I’d be safe, I knew that both of them were still alive. Sadly less than a month after this conversation with mam Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I was distraught, and later realised this was likely to be the end of my chance to ever meet him.

Anyway, my Cake Project idea had very humble beginnings. At Hallowe’en 2008 a friend of mine, Izzy, invited me to come stay at hers and meet Neil Gaiman, who was doing a book signing for The Graveyard Book in Eason’s in Dublin. That night remains one of the best of my life, the two minutes when I met Neil Gaiman in person were amazing, they felt like hours. He had this way of looking at you and talking to you like you were the most important person in his world and nothing else mattered as much. I’d made cookies to bring to my friends and in a fit of spontaneity I offered the box to him and he took a cookie, offering me one of his chocolate buttons in return.

The rule was that you could get three books signed so long as one of them was The Graveyard Book, Neil read the first chapter at that event in a beautifully scary voice, then he did a questions and answers. While we were queuing to get our books we were given postit notes to write the names we wanted them signed to, all part of trying to have a good event without giving people any time with the author they had come to see, but when we finally got to him it was brilliant,  one of the Eason’s people was hovering at his shoulder, handing him the books, opening packets of chocolate buttons all to move the line on quicker, and yet Neil was doing it all at his own pace, chatting with everyone and generally being lovely. As me and my friends were leaving with our freshly signed books in hand we met two girls who’d been in the queue ahead of us, one of whom was gushing to us about how it was the best night of her life while her friend burst out yelling “He let me touch his hair!”.

I left with signed copies of Stardust, The Graveyard Book and Good Omens, and an idea. We all got on the bus home massively happy.

Coming next, The Cake Project Part 2: Terry Pratchett