In the sixth part of Unseen Academicals, the chaotic football game begins and then ends with a shocking twist. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I have WORDS for all of you. WORDS.
There was laughter from the group behind him. Andy always got a laugh. It was the first thing you noticed, after the glint in his eye.
Yeah, I hate Andy. A lot. Completely. In every possible way. I am certain that most of us could point to someone who is an exact version of this man. I definitely know a few! Maybe not so much these days, but when I was still in school, there were lots of them. These men were walking nightmares, but they always came with a group that was cruel and violent and ultimately defaulted to their horrific leader. And that’s the thing: these men don’t operate alone. Who supports them? Protects them? Creates a space that allows them to go unpunished, without accountability? I feel like Pratchett is also deliberately addressing the sort of toxic masculinity that often goes hand-in-hand with sports fandoms. And look, that kinda stuff has turned a LOT of people off of following sports! I’m definitely one of them! I couldn’t stand the culture that surrounded them, and I got made fun of in ways that were very, very similar to what Andy does to Nutt here. Which is why I was so pleased that immediately after Andy tries to do that emasculating thing by saying that Nutt has “hands like a girl,” Nutt’s normal handshake nearly crushes Andy. IT’S WHAT HE DESERVES.
Here’s what I’m curious about: it looks like Trev has more or less tolerated Andy, mostly because they both enjoy the same team. And perhaps it’s also a means of protecting himself. He tolerates Andy, knowing he has to be around him, and he’d rather not be on the receiving end of the guy’s cruelty. That being said: he very, very quickly defends Nutt multiple times, and also pushes back on the kind of bullying Andy is used to getting away with. He even pushes back against Carter:
‘Coming down here, taking our jobs, yeah?’ said Carter.
‘Like, how often do you do a hand’s turn?’ said Trev.
‘Well, I might want to one day.’
Is it a full rejection? No, and I don’t think he’s ready to get rid of these “friends,” either, but I did admire that he did his best to make Nutt feel like he belongs. Of course, Nutt very quickly does something that sets him apart from literally everyone because of course he does. But he doesn’t know any better! Things were already odd because of Nutt’s demonstration of his immense strength in the shove. (And lord, I would absolutely NOT have enjoyed a crowd like that. I get terribly claustrophobic in situations that are similar.) This whole thing was so chaotic—and it was meant to be—which is one way that Nutt acts as a constant. He is so calm during all of this, and he protects his friends from other people, and he is the purest fucking soul in the Discworld since… what? Earlier versions of Carrot? (Actually, I’d argue that Carrot is just… literal? It’s slightly different.) He’s so goddamn sincere, y’all, and he wants so badly to just be a part of everything, and he thought he actually was helping when he THREW THE BALL SO HARD THAT WHEN IT SCORED A GOAL IT SHATTERED THE SIXTY-FOOT GOAL POST. And that goal post was one hundred and fifty yards away.
Okay, so. Clearly, Trev is not the only person here who is going to be very necessary to the inevitable football match in this book. I do wonder about that, and I’m curious what the wizards’ take is on the shattering goal post. Did any of them see it? Will they participate in multiple matches? Which team will try to recruit Trev or Nutt? Because after this display (as well as Trev’s skills with a tin can), I feel like we’re going to see them both play.
I’d love to talk more about the game, but I’m still freaking out over where this book went because I DON’T FUCKING GET IT. So, there’s a terrible congruence of men after the Stollop brothers catch up to Trev to confront him about the goal post, and then ANDY shows up, suspicious about a Dimmer and a Dolly “holding hands” and y’all.
First, I have to laugh that the factor that causes Algernon to lash out is this:
As it happened, one very clever person was able to do the job, when Nutt turned to Algernon, the youngest Stollop, and said cheerfully, ‘Do you know, sir, that your situation here is very similar to that described by Vonmausberger in his treatise on his experiment with rats?’
NUTT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. It’s so… adorable, in a weird way? But then Algernon whacks Nutt with a club, and… okay, maybe I misinterpreted this, but I can see why I thought that the “stitches” were referring to the stitches of the sweater, not stitches that Nutt mysteriously hid beneath it. I think? Either way: how does a club make Nutt bleed? How did it STOP NUTT’S HEART? I’m sorry, he’s not actually dead, is he? Nutt is a major character! This isn’t happening, is it? As I read this, I tried to convince myself that I’d just mis-read something, but nope.
Trev knelt by the cooling body of the late Nutt.
YEAH. IT’S NOT A JOKE. What the fuck??? How could Lady Sybil help? What am I missing here, y’all????
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