Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Happy Towel Day

Today is Towel Day. For those not in the know the 25th May is a day of remembrance for Douglas Adams; author, mac user, screenwriter, musician and conservationist best known for his series 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' He died in 2001 from a heart attack aged just 49. Towel Day is so named after a section from Hitchhiker's in which the guide itself expounds on the usefulness of always knowing where your towel is:
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."
Chapter 3 , Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.
Now - I freely admit I am more than a little anal about Douglas Adams including but not just limited to, Hitchhiker's. I have all the books in many different covers including H2G2* itself in Norwegian, Turkish, Spanish and French. You get the picture? So today - I salute you with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster held high Douglas Adams, and I thank you for the wondrous stories you brought into our lives and onto our screens.
*H2G2: Hitchhikers Guide to the Glaxy


  1. I read the Hitchhikers trilogy back in the 80's. I can't recall the significance of the towel so you've inspired me to read them again. I was shocked to be reminded that it was nine years ago that he died. What would he have made of the advance of the internet and all the 'i'gadgets. The mind boggles.

    P.S. I landed here from the www.allotments-uk.com.

  2. Hi Aimee, thanks for looking and more importantly, commenting!
    I think DA would have loved the gadgets we have now, he was a big Mac user and pretty techy himself. Hope you enjoy your revisit of the books, I find you can pick up on nuances you're previously missed on re-reading it.


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