When I landed in the UK almost eleven years ago I had some knowledge of how England ‘worked’ via my work colleagues who enjoyed inserting Cockney Rhyming Slang into business meetings (I used to think it was a long ploy to get me to say inappropriate things), Monty Python, and a fellow named Douglas Adams.
Douglas came into my life in high school thanks to being surrounded by geeks and nerds who shall and always will be, my people. I’m not all that sure who gave me the first book but I still own (and lugged across the ocean) the trilogy of six books that make up the core of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I embraced everything about those books – especially how the Heart of Gold’s power being derived off of a bunch of mathematicians arguing over how to split a dinner bill. (Honestly, he was onto something.) Or that six books is about right for a trilogy.
The absurd nature of the writing, the inappropriateness of it all – like the cow announcing it would be the diner’s dinner and to not worry… it will be quite humane when it took it’s life… stuck hard with me. Those books illuminated what is a truly a high art in England. Take a situation – preferably an incredibly ludicrous or insanely dangerous one – and put as much civility as possible on top of it. Sure, you’re all going to die for us to put in a hyperspace bypass – but the plans were on display for you to review – provided you knew exactly how to get to said plans in order to lodge a proper complaint.
Living here as long as I have now I can tell you – the English would 100% do this.
I’ve read a considerable amount of Douglas’ writings, watched his contributions to Doctor Who, and dutifully wore my towel to the 2005 movie (which the people who were putting on the event didn’t understand I still am angry about TO THIS DAY). I actually mourned his passing in 2001 – this sudden end to a creative work still in progress – and every May 25th (which is the time where we all finally get around to remembering we need to mourn Douglas as we can be a bit behind on those sorts of things) I post to my Hoopy Froods to have a Happy Towel Day.
So, to all those out there that might feel a bit lost – or a bit fed up with how western society operates – I welcome you to discover a world that involves a lot of silliness, a great deal of confusion, and at least 5 Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.
The answer to life, the universe and everything can be found within his works. As can a bowel of petunias with a real grudge.
Happy Towel Day, everyone.