Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Copyright © 2011 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

“I have no particular objection to people taking substances that make them feel better, or more contented or, for that matter, see little dancing purple fairies—or even their god if it comes to that. It’s their brain, after all, and society can have no claim on it, providing they’re not operating heavy machinery at the time. However, to sell drugs to trolls that actually make their heads explode is simply murder, the capital crime.”



There was always paperwork. It is well known that any drive to reduce paperwork only results in extra paperwork.



“Where there are policemen there’s crime, sergeant, remember that.”

“Yes, I do, sir, although I think it sounds better with a little reordering of the words.”

He loved Lady Sybil to distraction, of course, but he couldn’t help noticing how, these days, his bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich had become, not as it had been traditionally, a bacon, tomato and lettuce and had in fact become a lettuce, tomato and bacon sandwich. It was all about health, of course. It was a conspiracy. Why did they never find a vegetable that was bad for you, hey?
Vimes hadn’t argued. There was no point in arguing with Sybil, because even if you thought that you’d won, it would turn out, by some magic unavailable to husbands, that you had, in fact, been totally misinformed.
“I have no problem with smuggling. It involves the qualities of enterprise, stealth and original thinking. Attributes to be encouraged in the common man. In truth, it doesn’t do that much harm and allows the man in the street a little frisson of enjoyment. Everyone should occasionally break the law in some small and delightful way, Drumknott. It’s good for the hygiene of the brain.”
Usually Sybil considered it her wifely duty to see to it that her husband lived forever, and was convinced that this happy state of affairs could be achieved by feeding him bowel-scouring nuts and grains and yogurt, which to Vimes’s mind was a type of cheese that wasn’t trying hard enough.



“Aristocrats don’t notice philosophical conundra. They just ignore them. Philosophy includes contemplating the possibility that you might be wrong, sir, and a real aristocrat knows that he is always right. It’s not vanity, you understand, it’s built-in absolute certainty. They may sometimes be as mad as a hatful of spoons, but they are always definitely and certainly mad.”
Vimes could ride, but hated doing so. Nevertheless, falling off the back of a pony onto one’s head was a skill that every young man should learn if only so that he resolved never to do it again.
“I also know seventy-three farmyard noises, my favorite of which is the sound of a farmer who has had one boot sucked from his foot by the muck he’s trying to avoid and has nowhere else to put his stockinged foot but in the said muck. Hugely amusing, sir.”
These thoughts melted into his somnolent brain like little grains of sugar in a cup of tea, slithering and dripping from cell to synapse to neurotransmitter until it arrived in the receptor marked “suspicion,” which if you saw a medical diagram of a policeman’s brain would probably be quite a visible lump, slightly larger than the lump marked “ability to understand long words.”
“I’m not the law, no policeman is the law. A policeman is just a man, but when he wakes up in the morning it is the law that is his alarm clock.”

“I think things got a bit tangled: you see, you thought about things as being legal or illegal. Well, I’m just a soldier and never was a very good one, but it’s my opinion you were so worried about legal and illegal that you never stopped to think about whether it was right or wrong. And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going down to the pub.”

Automatically, his wife said, “No, dear, you know drink doesn’t agree with you.“

The colonel was all smiles. “This evening I intend to settle my differences with drink and make it my friend.”



“You’ve killed people?”

Vimes looked at the ceiling so as not to have to look at Feeney’s face. “I like to think I did my best not to,” he said, “and on the whole I’ve been good at that, but sooner or later there’s always going to be somebody who is determined to finish you off and you end up having to take him down the wrong way because he’s just too damn stupid to surrender.”

“I tell you, commander, it’s true that some of the most terrible things in the world are done by people who think, genuinely think, that they’re doing it for the best, especially if there is some god involved.”



“I don’t know who those people were who killed the goblins and beat my mother, but if I ever found out I would slaughter them without a thought, because good people have no business being so bad. Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to.”
“What they really need is a first-class theologian, because, you see, they agree with the rest of the world: they think they’re rubbish! They think they did something very bad, a long time ago, and because of it they’ve lived like they do. They think they have it coming to them, as you might say.”

There were times when the world did not need policemen, because what it really did need was for somebody who knew what they were doing to shut it all down and start it all up again so that this time it could be done properly . . .

It always embarrassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was “policeman.” If it came to that, he hated thinking of them as civilians. What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge? But they tended to use the term these days as a way of describing people who were not policemen. It was a dangerous habit: once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers.

[...] what he was hearing was the real, high-brow stuff: you couldn’t hum it, and at no point did anybody shout “Whoops! Have a banana!” It was the pure quill of music, a sound that came close to making you want to fall on your knees and promise to be a better person.



Vimes thought, isn’t that how I’ve always said it worked? Little crimes breeding big crimes. You smile at little crimes and then big crimes blow your head off.

People said that these days Ankh-Morpork was moving. Others said that while this might be true, so was a sufficiently aged cheese.

The whole continent! There were people on it, so he understood, but mostly what he was seeing from the air was either desert, mountain or, most of all, green jungle. He allowed the albatross to drift on the thermals as his keen eyes searched for what he suspected might be there. It was, in fact, not a thing, as such, but a concept: rectangular. People who planted things liked rectangular. It was orderly.
He knew already that it was a river that saw no point in hurrying. After all, it was made up of water, and it is generally agreed that water has memory. It knew the score: you evaporated, you floated around in a cloud until somebody organized everybody, and then you all fell down as rain. It happened all the time. There was no point in hurrying. After your first splash, you’d seen it all before.
Some parts of his body reported for duty, others protested that they had a note from their mother.
“You know, usually when I’m talking to young officers such as yourself I say that in a certain type of case, you should always follow the money, you should ask ‘Who stands to lose? Who stands to gain?’ [...] But sometimes you should follow the arrogance . . . You should look for those who can’t believe that the law would ever catch them, who believe that they act out of a right that the rest of us do not have. The job of the officer of the law is to let them know that they are wrong!”

“You were just opening a way for the law to flow in, Sam. The end justifies the means.”

“I’m afraid a lot of bad men have used that to justify bad things, dear.”

Under the covers Sybil’s hand reached out to touch his. “That’s no reason why one good man shouldn’t use it to justify a good thing. Don’t worry, Sam!”

Woman’s logic, Sam thought: everything is going to be all right because it ought to be all right. The trouble is, reality is never as simple as that and doesn’t allow for paperwork.

text checked (see note) Feb 2021

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