Saturday, 25 May 2013

Do You Know Where Your Towel Is?

"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 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-bogglingly 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.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker 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. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". 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 that 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." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”
- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Cloth nappies (not modern cloth but the old style square of towelling) and towels are my saviour. I am, you could say, one hoopy frood who knows where my towel is. I have a variety of colours and use/have used them to:
  • line Hunter's bassinet (our pram has a bassinet insert, which has been excellent!),
  • mop up baby grub mess,
  • I used to put a couple on the ground as absorbent barriers and let Hunter have free-bum time (no nappy, free-balling for beginners),
  • line the trolley seat at the supermarket with them.  I'm not into the trolley liners, but these work on the same principle,
  • use them as travel change mats,
  • use them as blankets when we are out and about and the breeze picks up,
  • use them to shade Hunter's face when he is in his car bassinet/baby capsule,
  • put them under Hunter on his play mats (when he was little) and on the couch now he is bigger to help me extend the time between washes,
  • lay Hunter down on them - they provided a solid colour background to infant photographs so I could focus on his sweet little face and not the daggy print on my quilt cover, and now are perfect for keeping him free of general public infrastructure filth.
  • hitch a ride on a Vogon spacecraft.
Perhaps you have no idea what The Hitchihikers Guide To The Galaxy is, and are thus confused about what a hoopy frood is... Please, find out. Those of you who know, will probably feel a little teary upon reading this post by Peter Anderson. If you are like me, Peter's post will make you well up the same way they did during the last scene of the 2005 movie (staring Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def, Helen Mirin, Bill Bailey, John Malkovich and Alan Rickman) when, as the improbability drive is activated, one of the images generated is the kind face of Douglas Adams.

May 25th is Towel Day #towelday. Towel Day is an annual tribute - nay, celebration of the life and works of the gentle, hilarious and (sadly) late author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). On that day, fans around the universe proudly carry a towel in his honour. You can buy yourself a special DONT PANIC towel from Think Geek- or you can simply lay your sweet child down upon an absorbent towelling surface and thank the stars for all the good things in your life (books, babies et al).

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Sandi D

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