Yet another Towel Day has passed and we’ve been out proudly parading our towels around metropolitan Barcelona. Our usual tradition of taking the bike out for a special ride had to be dismissed this year since I can’t legally ride my bike at the moment – a story too complicated to share here – it has to do with paperwork and the full story will be blogged later.
Instead we had Towel Day breakfast at a café and strolled around La Sagrada Famillia flying our towels and trying to appear in as many tourist photos as possible. Later in the evening, after finishing my classes, we went to Parque de la Ciutadella to end the day with a towel picnic.
We have come to the time of the year when I like to look back in remembrance and appreciation of a man that gave us so much and left us too soon: Douglas Adams.
In moments of hardship, boredom or distress, I like to open The Book to find comfort in the words of wisdom. I find the following a particularly suitable passage to quote today:
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Once a year we celebrate Towel Day in rememberance of this great man and, for us, I believe it is as close as we get to a religious holiday and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is as close to a holy scripture as I will get.
This year we wanted to do something especially special for Towel Day so we booked ourselves into the YHA hostel in Cambridge for the night and rode the motorbikes up to join the ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha for the Douglas Adams Tour of Cambridge.
Having done our best trying to stay off the big A roads and rather use the smaller country lanes we arrived in Cambridge in search of motorbike parking. I must say riding with Christopher can be rather challenging in certain ways – he both complains that I forget that he doesn’t have 17 years of experience AND tells me off for not following the proper rules. Apparently I forgot that his bike doesn’t go faster than 80k and perhaps I was speeding a little bit, however my GPS said 95k and I was riding nowhere near that speed… apparently there was a 40miles sign, erhum. Obviously, the GPS is to blame. Obviously. In addition, he disapproved of the entrance to the car park that I found, and claimed that it was only for bicycles when it, obviously, was large enough for motorbikes as well. My defence consisiting of: no one saw so no one got angry – was not accepted. Apparently that is not a valid point in the land of CCTV. I wonder if this is how it feels to be religious? Imagining someone constantly watching over you, like a surveillance camera judging all your acts. Well, I will never know.
Anyway, I’m digressing. In Cambridge we dressed up with our nicest towels and headed to the train station where we met David Haddock, Douglas Adams expert and our guide for the evening.
From there, we continued to Mill Road Maternity Hospital – now sheltered housing – where Douglas Adams was born and then onwards to where he lived his first years, where he lived as a student, followed by locations where he found inspiration for his writing and where he later worked with the students comedy club, The Footlights.
David Haddock was very knowledgeble (well, that is what expert means… da!) and shared quirky bits of information with us all through the evening. Well I do think I need to re-read the books now when I have all the facts, the staircase in Dirk Gently, for example, is inspired by the staircases in St John’s College, where Douglas Adams was a student. In fact, the Dirk Gently books are available as audio books so I might get them, again, since I have only read them with my eyes and not my ears. Not like The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, which I have consumed in every form available, English and Swedish. As for Dirk Gently, I have some catching up to do.
The tour ended in The Baron of Beef, where Douglas Adams used to drink, so we drank there, and next to where the tardis landed in Shada. In Cambridge, all is connected. On Saturday, the celebrations continue in Islington, apparently things are connected there too.
After a good night’s sleep in the hostel we headed back towards London. Christopher had to wipe his brow with his Japanese hand towel after a sweaty incident in a roundabout where his bike stalled but a part from that all went well. My compliments to Christopher, it is hard work to be a learner <3
Today is the official Towel Day therefore I’m writing this blogpost on the very important topic as my way of honouring Douglas Adams – a man who gave the world so much wisdom and left us too early.
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 interstellear hitch hiker can have. Partly it has a 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 around your head to ward off the noxious fumes or avoid 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 clean enough… (The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a trilogy in five parts, 1995, page 31)
For obvious reasons I always travel with a towel. Preferably it is a light one but it still needs to be big enough to cover me up properly if I need to transfer myself from a common bathroom to a changing room etc. While traveling the galaxy in general and planet Earth in particular I have for example used my towel to pad my riding jacket when underestimating the temperature difference between Madrid and the mountains up north and constructing a mosquito protection head device for my fiance when visiting an island in Sweden, I’ve worn it as a skirt when I didnt have anything else to put on, slept under it, had picnic on it and used it to dry myself after a shower or a swim in a lake.
My bike has its own towel. It is small, that kind that Japanese people bring with them for personal use. In fact, it was given to me in Japan at the WIMA Rally 2010, for personal use, but now serves my bike – which, in fact, also is Japanese – that the text on the towel reads Aprilia has little to do with this. My bike’s towel is used for drying rain from the seat and mirrors, or cleaning off bird droppings or spreading the tools on when occasional work is being done.
Well this is all for today. If you by chance stumble on this blog post and have no interest in motorbikes – be aware, continuing reading might change your opinion and I take no responsibility for this whatsoever!