Student and Graduate Publishing

Towel Day: The celebration of Douglas Adams

Thursday, 25 May 2017 12:18

Unfortunately, Towel Day isn’t a day where you can legit leave the house wearing only a towel – just imagine - but it’s a day of the year where fans of the influential sci-fi writer Douglas Adams celebrate his life and works. Yeah, some do carry towels around with them, not naked though, thankfully.  If you haven’t heard of Adams or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you have, happy towel day! Weird that Towel Day is on a Thursday this year, huh?

Newbies, here’s what you need to know: Douglas Adams was a British author, scriptwriter, and satirist. Mostly known for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and working on Doctor Who, he died in 2001. He had the idea for Hitchhiker’s Guide while he was looking up at the stars in a field in Austria thumbing through a travel guide. Originally, Hitchhiker’s Guide began around radio play, but developed into a ‘trilogy’ of five novels, a TV mini-series, and a feature length film in 2005 starring Martin Freeman, Stephen Fry, and other renowned British actors. Adam’s sharp wit and biting satire seduced generations of readers. Seriously, there are so many reasons to read the series, you should check it out. 

The book series follows an earthling, Arthur Dent.  After the destruction of Earth for an intergalactic bypass, by the wholly bureaucratic Vogons, Dent is rescued by a researcher for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and they end up going on adventures, discovering the meaning of life (it’s 42), and other adventures that are literally out-of-this-world. 

What’s a towel got to do with anything? Here’s the important excerpt:
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] 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-boggingly 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.”

Obviously, the internet is alive in its celebration. Metro have featured some of the best homages, and here's one of our favourites, courtesy of mostlyharmlessornot on Tumblr.

(Image source: mostharmlesslyornot on Tumblr)

- By Jivan Ward