|Last Chance to See is easily the most under-appreciated Adams book- get a copy
Also- towels make handy train blankets.
Last year, in a script read for GNW this happened-
“Its like that bit in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” said Marty (the director) “When those people ship all the useless people off their planet.”
“Golgafrinchans.” I said, under my breath.
“And they put them all on a big ship. Like all the people they don’t really need.”
“Telephone sanitisers, used car salesmen, retired television executives.”
I’m barely moving my mouth.
I have to try very, very hard to not utter the phrase “giant mutant star-goat.”
“You should watch out,” said Ian, looking at me in amusement “Alex is a bit of a fan.”
I love a lot of things (I wonder sometimes if I have something of an obsessive personality) but if I were to go on a games show where you had to have a special topic, mine would be Hitchhiker. Careful readers may have guessed I was a bit of a fan. Note the swear words.
I was given the books for Christmas when I was about fourteen. That was one of the happiest summer holidays I can remember. I can’t tell you why I love these books but if you haven’t read them yet, your life is not complete.
May 25th each year, for those who were not aware, is Towel Day. Yes its a thing. The idea is that you carry a towel with you all day in memory of the great Douglas Adams.
For the uninitiated this is what The Guide has to say about towels. In the last year and a half, I’ve often found myself away from home. During my gap year adventures I discovered that Douglas was right. If you arrive to stay somewhere with a towel, your hosts will immediately assume you to be incredibly organised. You remembered to pack a towel. Just in case. You are clearly on top of this whole situation.
There is a very simple reason why Adams, of all the authors in the world, gets his own holiday. His books have influenced the lives of millions. There’s a story about an old women who was dying alone in a nursing home but firmly believed that she was safe- because she knew where her towel was. There is something irrationally comforting about clutching a towel. When I was slightly lost in the bowels of Central Station on Wednesday I found myself clinging to mine.
I used to walk into exams with the words DON’T PANIC written in large friendly letters on my hand. My box of Hitchhiker CDs is positioned within reach so I can play one (usually at random) on the nights I can’t sleep. During times of adverse stress my brain tends to find a Hitchhiker quote to relate to every occasion and then scream it at me. I think this is supposed to calm me down.
In Ian’s office there’s a sign I made him as a thankyou present last year. It’s yellow and blue, slightly messy and says “BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD.” There’s a similar, if less elaborate, version on the door to my room. The phrase is an obscure Hitchhiker reference but, more importantly, its my favourite joke of all time.
One day I hope to own a disused lavatory with a similar sign on the door in which I can put a locked filing cabinet.
Thankyou Douglas. Wish you were here.