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Save the date: It’s Towel Day

In these bewildering times we’re all blundering through, it’s increasingly difficult to crack open a calendar without tripping over a new anniversary or appreciation day one has hitherto been entirely unaware of.

For example, while the vast majority of us will be familiar with the recently observed Mother’s Day [even if ungrateful offspring still regularly forget to acknowledge it], and the anti-bullying awareness Pink Shirt Day that rolled around last Friday seems to be picking up steam in the public consciousness, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that June 18 is International Picnic Day.

By the same token, it’s odds on that you don’t know that May 25 [which falls this Saturday] is Towel Day, which every year belatedly marks the date [May 11] that, in 2001, Douglas Adams “suffered a spontaneous existence failure” [in other words, died].

Adams, as you may already know, was an author who was best known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a “five-part trilogy” of science fiction comedy novels that began life as a BBC Radio series in 1977 and – in addition to the books – spawned a 1981 television series and a 2005 feature film.

Those who observe Towel Day do so by openly carrying a towel with them, in acknowledgement of how that absorbent cloth “is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have” [if you’d like some examples to support this contention, please refer to Chapter Three of The Hitchhiker’s Guide].

Those readers who are already fans of Adams’ work but – like this writer – weren’t aware of this commemorative day will now no doubt already be doing a mental stocktake of their airing cupboard in preparation for Saturday’s celebrations.

For those lucky enough not to be familiar with Adams’ work and thus still have the joy of reading it for the first time ahead of them, here are a few snippets of his wit and wisdom, in the hope that you’ll be inspired to observe the day next year…

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

“One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarise: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

“Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe.”

“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons.”

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