42 Days Until Towel Day

As you must certainly know it has been 42 years since Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first aired on BBC Radio 4. In honour of this auspicious anniversary I think fans like ourselves should make every effort to participate in this year’s Towel Day.

As you know The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about towels.

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 vapours; 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 — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); 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 hitchhiker 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.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

On the 25th of May show your hoopiness by carrying a towel, maybe spending the day in your pyjamas and dressing gown, have three pints – at lunchtime – and maybe even organise a reading of Vogon poetry on Zoom.

It’s not only The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy you can celebrate. It’s a chance to celebrate any and all of Douglas Adams’ wonderful works; works like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency or Starship Titanic. Whatever you do be sure to post your celebration on your favourite social media platforms with the tag #towelday. We may be forced to self-isolate but there’s no reason we can’t still make this Towel Day a great one.

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