John Dearheart was the son of Robert Dearheart and therefore the brother of Adora Belle Dearheart. He shared a passion for the clacks with his father, who founded the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company. After it was stolen, he along with some other clacksmen founded the New Trunk, which was planned to demonstrate new technologies and compete with the existing Grand Trunk. His wish to restore the company into his father's hands from Reacher Gilt led to his early death.
His only direct appearance is in the "One-Month Prologue" of Going Postal, though he is not named there. While trying to repair the shutter array of a new clacks tower, he was attacked by the banshee Gryle, who loosened his safety rope and then trod on his fingers to make him lose his grip.
After his death
His name, however, continues to be sent in the so-called Overhead of the clacks. The full message is "GNU John Dearheart", where the G means, that the message should be passed on, the N means "Not Logged" and the U that it should be turned around at the end of the line. So as the name "John Dearheart" keeps going up and down the line, this tradition applies a kind of immortality as "a man is not dead while his name is still spoken".
And in the Discworld way of things, belief has a strange power.
After Terry Pratchett passed away in 2015 the phrase GNU Terry Pratchett became popular as a tribute by fans. The phrase has since been incorporated into web coding in order to keep his name being spoken in the same manner as Robert Dearheart's tribute to John.
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