Thursday, May 12, 2011

Towel Day

me and my towel
May 25, 2006
Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Douglas Adams. I thought this would be a good opportunity to promote Towel Day on May 25. Celebrations will be held world wide. Find your local celebration at

For the uninitiated I should explain.
Douglas Adams died 11 May 2001. A date was chosen exactly two weeks later to commemorate his life and work. Time was needed for word of this memorial to get around the internet. Some people have tried to move the date to the actual date of his death or the date of his birth or some other date more appropriate. But by popular consensus it has remained May 25.

Douglas Adams was a writer. He wrote for the original Dr Who series making Tom Baker the one original Doctor that most people recognize. He did some work for Monty Python's Flying Circus. He's best known for the radio and book series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Anytime you see the number 42 on TV, cartoons, or software it's almost certainly a reference to that series. He also did a great but little known book called "Last Chance to See" where he and a proper biologist traveled to remote parts of the world looking for
rare animals.
Within a week of his passing there was an asteroid named Arthur Dent. Early in 2005 asteroid 2001 DA42 was named Douglasadams.

Why a towel?
This next bit is from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This is what The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has to say on the subject of towels.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker 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 (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); 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.

Towel Day is celebrated by carrying your towel with you all day. If that's too embarassing the Dougintologists also use the occasion to plant a tree or contributing to an enrironmental charity.
Favorites include:
* Dian Fossey Gorilla Foundation (
* Save the Rhino (
* Solar Electric Light Fund (
* Trees for the Future (

1 comment:

Dave Turner Sanur said...

Living in Bali Indonesia it is difficult not to see hundreds of people paying a tribute every day to Douglas. But for those who are not tourists, but are so unfortunate to be living in Paradise, the 25th May is a special occasion. To differentiate between the above, we are going to welcome those with dressing gowns as well as towels! In this heat, little else!
See us on
Good luck with the site, so long and thanks for all the fish.