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When was the last time you literally wept for joy reading a poem?

Admittedly there was sadness too, for the dearly departed Terry Pratchett, and that wistful feeling that comes from reading joyful genius one could only aspire to.

Many thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Ian Thomas Howard who gave me the book, "A Blink of the Screen", a collection of Pratchett's shorter fiction, some previously unpublished. For my non-British friends Glastonbury was a bit like Woodstock.

The tears started at the lines-
"Your Worship – I think that when I die
I’ll come back as a corpse,..."
Pratchett, of course, will never leave.

by Terry Pratchett.

A van driver there was, let’s call him me.
A nine-to-fiver, going home to tea.
Just outside Bath, observant as they come
He spied a hippie – travelling by thumb.
Beside the sunny road the lad stood baking
His hair was dripping sweat, his feet were aching.
Not cool was he, so broiling was the day
The poor man’s grass was turning fast to hay.
‘Glastonbury’s where I’m bound.’ ‘Hop in,’
I said. He gave a weary grin
‘Right on,’ he said, ‘this hitching is a drag.’
And then he rolled himself a sort of fag
And told me all about how the next day
Would be specially good vibrations all the way.
‘A Festival of Sevens’, and the Tor
A sort of dustbin full of cosmic lore.

Some miles further on we stopped again
To pick up four more lurking in a lane,
A woeful band, a travel-weary tribe
Without the breath to raise a single vibe
Between them. In the back they went
With two guitars, three rucksacks and a tent.
One believed in UFOs, one said ley
Lines were mystic traffic signs and they
All met at Glastonbury; also she
Was really deep into astrology.
‘You’re Libra.’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Oh, Aries?’ ‘No.’
‘I’m never wrong,’ she said. ‘You must be Virgo.’
‘No,’ I said; she thought a bit, then – ‘Leo?
Oh dear, I’m never wrong. Um, Scorpio?
Pisces? Taurus?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that’s me.’
Bells tinkled as the lady laughed with glee,
And clapped her hands, and said ‘I’m never wrong.’
And then another pilgrim joined our throng.
Black-clad she was. ‘I always get a hitch,’
She said, when climbing in, ‘’cos I’m a witch.’
‘Oho,’ said Ley-line Joe, with fancies lewd
A-thinking of her prancing in the nude.
But I thought, yes my girl, I’ve met your kind
At parties, where you always seem to find
Strange lines on people’s hands and put on airs
And then go and be sick upon the stairs.

With seven in the van plus tents, the tension
Was getting rather tight on the suspension.
The wheels were giving mystic sort of whines;
We went round corners hopping in straight lines.
And then as I must quickly now relate
The seven of us nearly met our fate.
‘You see, inspector, as I drove along
Listening quite astonished to the throng
Discussing miracles, I think, and Re-
Incarnation – it’s all Greek to me,
Your Worship – I think that when I die
I’ll come back as a corpse, but this is by
The way. I’ve got to tell you (honest) now
How come we very nearly hit a cow.
The herd came surging out across the road –
I braked, but trouble was, I had this load:
The road was hot, the tyres too and so
We did a mystic skid. And, er, you know
The van it sort of grit its teeth and lunged ...
The occupants went white with fear and plunged
Very nearly in my lap, bags, beads and bells,
Ropes, sandals, Levis and assorted smells;
On, on we slewed, and how I hoped that seven
Didn’t mean my number’s up and me in Heaven.
The witch said “Jesus!” which just goes to show
It pays to hedge your bets. You never know.
And then with one heroic braking judder
We halted seven inches from an udder.’

I’ve got to say that generally the town
Of Glastonbury always gets me down:
A nasty little town of moaning traders.
But then, there is this problem of invaders ...
I left them near the Tor. I hope they found
What they are looking for. A holy ground?
Sacred to what? I really do not know.
A sort of mystic Glastonbury glow.

I wondered, as a cheerful atheist,
Exactly what, besides a cow, I’ve missed.

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