The glorious 25th of May

The scent rolled over him.

He looked up.

Overhead, a lilac tree was in bloom.

He stared.

Damn! Damn! Damn! Every year he forgot. Well, no. He never forgot. He just put the memories away, like old silverware that you didn’t want to tarnish. And every year they came back, sharp and sparkling, and stabbed him in the heart.

Night Watch, Terry Pratchett, 2002

Lilac blooms with the sun shining through them

Lilac, photo by MattysFlicks@Flickr CC BY

The Hitch Hiker’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 hitch hiker can have[…] 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 know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979

Photograph of a towel draped over an arm, with a thumb up to hitch a ride

Have towel, will travel, photo by Kreg Steppe@Flickr CC BY-SA

Vetinari [said:] “As one man to another, commander, I must ask you: did you ever wonder why I wore the lilac?”

“Yeah, I wondered,” said Vimes.

“But you never asked.”

“No, I never asked,” said Vimes shortly. “It’s a flower. Anyone can wear a flower.”

“At this time? In this place?”

Night Watch, Terry Pratchett, 2002

Photograph of German editions of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and Night Watch, together with a lilac towl and a sprig of lilac

Remembering Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchtett, photo by Gytha69@Flickr, CC BY

Remembering Douglas Adams (1952–2001) and Terry Pratchett (1948–2015), both of whose work meant a lot to me at various times.


Image credits:

Lilacs, lighting and lens flare by MattysFlicks on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

Thumbs up by Kreg Steppe on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

25.Mai Towel Day- Handtuchtag in Gedenken an den genialen Schriftsteller Douglas Adams (1952-2001) und ‘Wear a lilac if you were there day- Trag Flieder, wenn Du dabei warst- Tag im Gedenken an die Glorreiche Revolution in Ankh-Morpork by Gytha69 on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution, cropped and colour adjusted by the author of this post.



Categories: arts & entertainment

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6 replies

  1. Every day is towel day, to me.

  2. See how they rise up…

  3. Beautiful post, Mary. I got my towel out and put it on the kitchen bench about an hour ago. It’s a very very old soft beach towel with a design of tropical fruit, which just feels GargleBlastery to me.

  4. Well no wonder my day is off to a crap start. Forgot my towel. I hope they don’t choose today to put the interstellar bypass in.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/700250176760538/
    This on the other hand sounds live a very good way to spend a Monday

  5. ‘No,‘ said Vimes, coming to a halt under a lamp by the crypt entrance. ‘How dare you? How dare you! At this time! In this place! They did the job they didn’t have to do, and they died doing it, and you can’t give them anything. Do you understand? They fought for those who’d been abandoned, they fought for one another, and they were betrayed. Men like them always are. What good would a statue be? It’d just inspire new fools to believe they’re going to be heroes. They wouldn’t want that. Just let them be. For ever.’

    (And if I happen to think this quote would be particularly apposite recited publicly at ANZAC ceremonies a month earlier, well, that’s just my opinion, right?)

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