Today is the 25th of May in New Zealand, which means that it’s TOWEL DAY!!!!
Towel Day is an international commemoration of the mind-boggling Hitchhikers universe and other works of the famous and now deceased British author and radio-show and computer games writer Douglas Adams. He died in 2001 from a sudden heart attack at the age of 49, in the middle of writing a novel. Some of his unfinished works and letters were published posthumously as “The Salmon Of Doubt”. I love his work, so ever since I found out about Towel Day, I’ve been wearing a towel in his honour of the 25th May. Towel Day is called that because the common towel was made an icon of Adams’ work over the years, as he wrote in his books that if there is one thing a hitch hiker needs, it is a towel.
“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 mini raft 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 to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but 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 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.”
– quotation from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
There is even a website dedicated to towels! (Visit it here) However, in New Zealand (or, rather, where I live), it seems that nobody knows about this author, nor the festival, apart from a couple of teachers…
So every year, I find myself explaining who Adams is, what the froody hell I am wearing a towel for, whether I said it was Towel Day or not, and so on, to my ignorant classmates. Incidentally, did you know that 25th May is also when the 1st Star Wars came to the cinemas for the first time and broke the box-office records, which were only beaten 22 years later with the Titanic?? Pretty cool, I reckon.
But, to get back to my original entry – Towel Day. As it was English week this week, the department finished it off with a ‘dress as your favourite book character from a fantasy, horror or classic book’ day – yay for me! I got to dress up (or down, as I wasn’t really wearing clothes) as Arthur Dent, the protagonist of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy trilogy in six parts. This is what Arthur looked like in the movie adaptation:
This, on the other hand, is what I looked like:
The only problem was, nobody recognised me! Every 30 seconds or so, someone would ask who I was, and then I would have to explain who Arthur was, and who Douglas Adams was, and what the series was, and why I was in my PJs wearing a dressing gown. And they still didn’t get it. It was sad. Now, my throat is hoarse from repeating the same thing again and again, but hopefully some curious girl will google one of the words I mentioned and be drawn into the world of Adam’s imaginings. Or learn about Towel Day. If you can’t be bothered, here is a site that tells you all about Towel Day and what you can do.
is THE ANSWER.