In this very special Christmas episode, Liz and Ben fly without a guest as they turn the seasonal silliness up to maximum and discuss all eleven stories in Terry Pratchett’s 2017 collection of short Christmas stories, Father Christmas’s Fake Beard.
It’s not always easy being Father Christmas. You might be forced out of home by a rogue submarine or the harsh reality of a job where you only work one day a year; you might be sent fifty thousand identical letters by a computer or put on trial for three thousand counts of breaking and entering. But at least you don’t live in Blackbury, where giant pies explode, the snow falls so thick you have to dig tunnels to see your granny, and where weird creatures show up every other day. And you won’t believe the true stories behind some of your favourite Christmas songs…
While he later claimed short stories “cost me blood”, Pratchett wrote scores of stories every year while working in his first newspaper jobs between 1965 and 1979, and continued to sell them to his old papers even after he went to work for the Central Electricity Governing Board. These included plenty of Christmas stories – and eleven of them (well…eight plus three wintery ring-ins) from between 1967 and 1992 are collected in this third volume of his early work for children.
Have you read Father Christmas’s Fake Beard? Is “Father Christmas” more British than Santa Claus? Do you prefer these (close to) original versions of the stories, or some of the later re-written versions unearthed for A Stroke of the Pen? Have you ever seen one of these stories in their original habitat, the Southwestern British Newspaper? And what should we name our Prod-Ye-A’Diddle Oh team? Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pratchat73!
“Guest” Elizabeth Flux is a freelance writer and editor, and also currently Arts Editor for The Age newspaper in Melbourne. You can find out where Liz’s short fiction has been published via her website, elizabethflux.com.
As usual, you can find notes and errata for this episode on our website.
Next episode we have two actual very special guests: Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent! They’re joining us for a chat about their new book, Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch. This will be more an interview than an in-depth discussion about the book (which, we feel we should warn you, include spoilers for some key events and characters for The Shepherd’s Crown, but we’ll try to keep those spoilers to a minimum). As well as asking our own questions, we want to ask them yours! So send them in using the hashtag #Pratchat74 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, but be quick: we’ll be recording on the 15th of December!
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