Today, May 25th, has become a day of considerable significance. Two fantastic authors, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, have made May 25th a day to remember. Back in 2001, two weeks after the death of Douglas Adams, fans began Towel Day. On Towel Day you carry a towel with you in remembrance of Adams and his excellent series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. As the great book says:
“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.”
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In the words of Ford Prefect: “If you want to survive out here, you’ve got to know where your towel is.”
Also on May 25th we’re now celebrating the work of Terry Pratchett and raising awareness and money for Alzheimer’s Disease. In Pratchett’s book Nightwatch, the men who fought and died in the Revolution are remembered by people who “wear the lilac” every May 25th. Bringing that tradition into the real world, Pratchett fans are now wearing lilac sprigs to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. You can even buy a spring here. Or you could just pick some. But that wouldn’t get much money to Alzheimer’s research.
On Twitter a few of us were talking about this and suggesting that we wouldn’t want one or other day to get the upper hand, as it were, leaving the other day less noticed. The net result of that conversation was that perhaps we should all wear towelling robes on May 25th. The robes would be lilac in colour and have DON’T PANIC embroidered on the back, with all sales proceeds going to www.alz.org or www.alzheimers-research.org.uk.
You heard it here first. Get on board. And if anyone wants to manufacture those robes and donate the profits to Alzheimer’s research then I’m sure karma would reward you generously.