From today's Guardian.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... -celebrity
The Terry Pratchett fan
'I hesitate to say we've become friends'
'My son said that when I die, all this is going on eBay.' "I am a hoarder, not a collector," says Dr Patrick Harkin, a tutor of medical students at Leeds University, without a trace of shame. The truth of this is on display around us. One could inventory the shelves and surfaces and cabinets that fill his house in Leeds and never quite be certain there was method in them.
Examples: a souvenir potato shrivelled with desiccating gel; a fibreglass facsimile of a medieval trunk; a box of fake teeth; a real and rather sharp scythe (with a blunt replacement "party blade", part of a Death costume, which had to be imported from America); a murky jar reputedly containing an onion grown and pickled by Sir Terry Pratchett; a photograph of Sir Terry, shirtless, signing books; a shell casing fired by Sir Terry; a knighthood certificate bestowed by Sir Terry; a convention lanyard worn by Sir Terry… Ah yes. A theme is beginning to emerge.
"He said that when I die, all this is going on eBay," Harkin says, indicating his 22-year-old son, Patrick Jnr, who is our lugubrious companion on the tour. "I had absolutely no chance being normal growing up," Junior shoots back. "I think I have been immunised, so I'm not – sorry Dad – as mental as you are."
His father thought the first Discworld book was "hilarious" when he borrowed it from a friend 25 years ago. Swiftly, he bought more. Queueing to have them signed by the author came next. And within two years, he was spending the weekend of his birthday at the second British Discworld convention, not having known about the first. "Then," he says, "it sort of grew."
What it grew into was a life inside one of the world's most active fan communities. Now Harkin visits multiple conventions, in many countries, several times a year, often acting as their compere and auctioneer. Like many other fans, he often appears as an extra when Pratchett's books are filmed. In between events, he and the others keep in touch on thronging online message boards. For a man of his stature, Pratchett is unusually approachable, too. So, having got to know him, Harkin has visited the author's home – and still occasionally receives phone calls to research, for instance, "how much force it would take to rip a man's head from his shoulders". "I hesitate to say we've become friends over the years," he cautions me. Yet it will clearly be a heavy blow when the great man does eventually succumb to Alzheimer's disease. Harkin expects to cope, he says wearily, "by a process of denial".