Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Life, the universe and towels

A little note on the name of my blog ...

I've decided to start this blog to chronicle my upcoming Mediterranean adventures.  In September, I'll be joined by three friends -- Roisin, Sara and Carolina - on a Mediterranean cruise. I had thought of calling this blog "4 women, 5 countries, 10 cities in 18 days" but it sounded too much like a promo for a mini-Lillith fair tour.

So where does the towel come in? 

One of my favourite authors is Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. A well-known passage in the first Hitchhikers book is on towels:

‘The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.

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 […]  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-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker 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. [ … ] 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.

Hence a phrase which has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."’

Here's hoping we really know where our towels are at. :)