Friday, 25 May 2012

It's rather unplesantly like being drunk

"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"

"Ask a glass of water."

These words are spoken between Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, while about to travel into hyperspace onboard a ship of the Vogon constructor fleet that has just demolished the Earth. It is one of many, many genius quotations from a book I have a great fondness for and could quite happily quote all day long. And it would be quite fitting to do so today. For today... Towel Day!

I've mentioned it before, during my assertion that we should have a Shiny Day in honour of Firefly. It is a day to honour Douglas Adams, author of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency as well as their many, many sequels. Two weeks after his tragic passing in 2001, fans of Hitch Hiker's decided that every 25th May from then on should be Towel Day, a day to pay tribute to the brilliance of Douglas Adams. Traditional fashion dictates that Towel Day be marked by the wearing of one's towel all day.

Hence why mine is on my hip, dangling like a gun in a holster, where it will remain for the rest of the day.

This is the essence of Towel Day.

That and I have the 1980 TV series of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy playing in the background.

I will quoting along with it all day.

But I thought I would also talk about The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Much like my journey through the world of tea, there's been something of a journey for me here, with The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Rather fitting, given its title.

My journey began somewhere in 2005. I say somewhere. It was around May, in fact. This was when my GCSE exams were happening. I'm pretty sure this was the first time I had encountered Hitch Hiker's, though I may have come across it before. My mother had come across a long time before and she had the "Trilogy in Four Parts" version of the books (I have the hardcover Trilogy in Five Parts). Anyway, it was on BBC2, quite late at night and back in the day, I was a really nocturnal creature. Still am mostly, but work tends to mean I go to bed early.

Anyway, GCSEs, BBC2 and Hitch Hiker's. A combination of things that most of my teachers probably wouldn't approved of. Especially since my earliest and clearest memory of watching Hitch Hiker's was the day before my English Literature exam - an exam I had completely failed at during my mock exams the previous year. I say completely failed. I was given an E. My teacher had the distinct impression that this wasn't the grade I should've received. With that in mind, I probably shouldn't have been up late, having cram revised that day, watching TV.

But watch it I did. And thoroughly enjoy it I did. It was one of those things that I kept catching on TV now and again for the next few years. I even borrowed my mother's copy of the book. It is one of the only books that has ever made me laugh out loud. I mean, there are points in books that make me giggle, those that make me gasp at their twists, then there's The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. No other book has made me laugh so much. jPod (Douglas Coupland) came close, but it couldn't match the hysterics Hitch Hiker's reduced me to.

The hysterics I was reduced to wasn't the only effect Hitch Hiker's had on me. Around 2006/2007, well...there was this girl. It's a story my friends have heard a thousand times. But this particular incident led to an intriguing story being written. It goes something like this. Back in the day, I had codenames for girls I liked. Around 2006/2007, I had discovered James Cameron's Dark Angel and used X5 barcode designations as codes for these girls...this is not entirely a good story the more I say it, but oh well, it's in the past now.


It had reached the point where I'd explained the X5 thing to so many people that it wasn't so much of a secret code anymore. So, to preserve the secrecy of my crush on X5-718 (my school friends, if any of them are reading, should remember who this was), I wrote a completely random paragraph that contained within it all the elements that constituted the girl's name. Anyone who read it would just think it was something completely random. It was perfect. And somehow, it became the basis for a story I called "A Series of Universally Random Events" - essentially my version of Hitch Hiker's. Nowhere near as epic in length or funny in content, but oh well. It was something and people did find it funny, which was another something.

In 2008, I acquired the Trilogy in Five Parts of Hitch Hiker's. And it was probably around May that year that I was reading it, sitting in the window of my first year room, legs dangling out (I was on the first floor), vaguely enjoying the sunshine while laughing incessantly. Around the same time I bought the 1980 TV series on DVD (the same DVDs I'm half-watching now).

It wasn't until 2010 that I first observed Towel Day. I was working at TGI Friday's at the time. It was quite a quiet Tuesday. I had my towel hooked on my apron, on the side, gunslinger-style - the very same style I wear it today. The presence of the towel caused much, much confusion but after a quick explanation, everyone pretty much just accepted it and I went about my work. The next year, I had long since left TGI Friday's and was solely working at Boston Tea Party. I had checked and triple-checked that no one would have an issue with me wearing a towel to work, so all but one of my colleagues knew I was going to be wearing a towel. And no customers really questioned it.

No one tends to question the towel.

So this has been my random babble about Towel Day and The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I hope it's made sense and that everyone has a wonderful Towel Day, Glorious 25th May or Geek Pride Day, depending which geek holiday you're observing today. 

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