Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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So Long And Thanks

Douglas Noel Adams, author of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and a couple of very silly scripts for Doctor Who, died two years ago today.

In one of the Discworld novels - possibly Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett postulates that ideas travel around the universe in particle form, hitting people at random. Some people will only be struck by a couple of ideas in a lifetime; some are constantly bombarded. Douglas Adams certainly got more than his fair share.

He created the Babel fish, an organic universal translator which fits in the ear and lives on brainwaves. The Electric Monk, which holds religious beliefs for you to save you the bother. And, of course, the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an electronic book that tells you everything you need to know about everything (Earth: Mostly Harmless).

His ideas have become part of popular culture. There's a translation website called babelfish. Everyone knows that the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42 (ah, but what is the question?). And how many dodgy cocktails have been mixed under the name Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster?

He was a master of the memorable phrase, both comic and philosophical. Nobody in my family can walk past a black vehicle without commenting that 'light just falls into it', and there are times when all of us need to say 'Life? Don't talk to me about life.'

Most importantly, his writing was and is incredibly bloody funny. If I even began to list the one-liners that make me laugh out loud every time, I would be here all night.

I saw the man in person twice: once addressing the Oxford Green Society and reading from his book Last Chance to See, once seated in front of me at a student dramatisation of Dirk Gently, Dirk. On neither occasion did I prostrate myself before him, kiss his feet and tell him that if I could be one-sixteenth as clever and funny as he, I would die happy.

Embarrassing as it would have been for both of us at the time, I deeply regret it now.

England, the world and, yes, the galaxy has lost one of its most brilliant and its tallest humorists, not to mention a man who really appreciated the Apple Mac and Paul Simon's One Trick Pony.

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