Sunday 29 January 2017

Nice and Accurate Prophesies

'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is an excellent and entertaining read, kind of like Discworld, but not, and I am definitely going to read some more Neil Gaiman. So, apparently, the armageddon is upon us, the anti-christ has been born and the four horsemen are on their way. Anathema Device knows all about it due to a book written by an unlikely ancestor of hers, 'The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch'. The devil Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have been coexisting on earth for quite some time now and have come to a comfortable arrangement, and even though they are on opposing sides they find themselves cooperating with a cast of unlikely characters to thwart the plans of people in high places. If you are a fan you hardly need me to tell you how it unfolds, and if you've never read it, this weekend would be a really good time to amend this lack in your life. I'm going to give you a few quote that capture the essence of the style and the story, because it's nice just to be self indulgent sometimes.

"Two of them lurked in the ruined graveyard. Two shadowy figures, one hunched and squat, the other lean and menacing, both of them Olympic-grade lurkers. If Bruce Springsteen had ever recorded 'Born to Lurk', these two would have been on the album cover. They had been lurking in the fog for an hour now, but they had been pacing themselves and could lurk for the rest of the night if necessary, with still enough sullen menace left for the final burst of lurking around dawn.
Finally, after another twenty minutes, one of them said: 'Bugger this for a lark. He should have been here hours ago.'
The speaker's name was Hastur. He was a Duke of Hell." (p.24-5)

And because we all love a nice dog:

"And there was a black dog in the road.
It had to be a dog. It was dog-shaped.
There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of man-made evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. These dogs advance deliberately, purposefully, the wilderness made flesh, their teeth yellow, their breath a-stink, while in the distance their owners witter, 'He's an old soppy really, just poke him if he's a nuisance,' and in the green of their eyes the red campfires of the Pleistocene gleam and flicker ...
This dog would make even a dog like that slink nonchalantly behind the sofa and pretend to be extremely preoccupied with its rubber bone.
It was already growling, and the growl was a low, rumbling snarl of spring-coiled menace, the sort of growl that starts in the back of one throat and ends up in someone else's.
Saliva dripped from its jaws and sizzled on the tar.
It took a few steps forward, and sniffed the sullen air.
Its ears flicked up." (p.87-8)

And this wonderful insight into the everyday lives of devils:

"In fact the only things in the flat that Crowley devoted any personal attention to were the houseplants. They were huge and green and glorious, with shiny, healthy, lustrous leaves.
This was because once a week, Crowley went around the flat with a green plastic plant mister, spraying the leaves, and talking to the plants.
He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.
What he did was put the fear of God into them.
More precisely, the fear of Crowley.
In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. 'Say goodbye to your friend,' he'd say to them. 'He just couldn't cut it ...'
Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified." (p.252-3)

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