Thursday 29th March 2012
FORD Prefect, having just ordered six pints of bitter and told the landlord to keep the change, urges his companion…
“Drink up. The world’s about to end.”
…to which Arthur Dent responds with one of the many great lines to be found in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
I only met Douglas Adams once, very briefly: a shy man, a little uncomfortable back-stage, but you could sense that he had a brain the size of a planet.
Great humour is rarely taken seriously. While we may acknowledge the truth of a witty observation, there remains an unspoken convention that what makes us laugh is ‘light-hearted’, or ‘entertaining’… but no more than that.
Nobody leaves a comedy gig intent on revolution; unfortunately.
Adams often lost confidence as a writer. Before Hitchhiker, he had a number of short-term jobs, including one as an oil magnate’s bodyguard. This led to an encounter with a prostitute, who’d been sent to the hotel where Douglas was on duty. Noticing him still in the corridor after fulfilling her professional obligations, she allegedly told him:
“At least you can read while you’re on the job.”
His middle name was Noel. The coincidence of the initials would have meant nothing to his parents, for Watson and Crick didn’t publish their findings until the year after his birth.
The project that pleased him most was the 1989 radio series (and accompanying book) Last Chance to See. Douglas asked a zoologist if there were any venomous creatures he liked.
“There was, but she left me,” came the reply.
My favourite quote from The Guide is this one:
“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.”
Very funny. Also true.