I don’t know how many times I’ve read those words, or listened to those words, or even spoken those words. Lots. In fact, probably some other adjective that’s bigger than lots. Because The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of those books for me, and over the course of my life, I watched it, read it, listened to it, and quoted it more times than I care to remember. I could tell you – in detail – the differences between the original radio play scripts and the books. I could regail you with tales of my research in to the correct method for making a really good, strong Brownian Motion producer. And I could even spend many, many hours explaining why sitting through the film is infinitely worse than listening to Vogon poetry. I could do all that and more if you asked me to, and yet there was still room for me to undergo a largely unexpected epiphany regarding my most favourite book.
I’d like to think that one of the things that all humans have in common is the ability to feel incredibly stupid without any help from others. Like when you figure out a fiendishly simple puzzle. You stare and stare at the damn thing for hours upon hours, knowing that what you’re looking for is really fucking simple, but without ever finding a solution. Then one day, like a Chesterfield sofa, it just pops in to being all on its own, robbing you of any sense of satisfaction or relief you would have gotten from solving it yourself. That’s what happened to me this year. A huge, really rather obvious Chesterfield-sofa-of-an-idea turned up in my brain, and like Arthur Dent on a Thursday, I’ve struggled to come to terms with it ever since.
Life? Don’t talk to me about Life…
You see it’s my birthday today, and I have become the very embodiment of the meaning of life. I am Majikthise and/or Vroomfondel standing in front of Deep Thought, bewildered; I have reached the age 42 without a single clue as to what I’m supposed to do next. And this is where my epiphany comes in. Because just this year, after years and years of enjoying my favourite book, I finally joined the dots; Don’t Panic…. 42…. DON’T PANIC ABOUT BEING 42!!. Holy shit it all makes sense now. I know, I know. Douglas Adams explained where the number came from, and it wasn’t about hitting that age. But I like to think that subconsciously, the part of his brain that created the Chesterfield sofa was quietly working on the idea that hitting 42 was the kind of thing that might make the average ape descendant plunge in to a fit of soul-searching panic.
It’s not easy being a cop!
Probably not. But I do know that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has come to mean more and more to me as I’ve gotten older. A lot has happened to me in 42 years; I’ve come to terms with the fact that my father’s death means I’m never going to be able to fix our broken relationship. I’ve accepted that I’m never going to have a career – successful or otherwise – because I’ve been blessed with more children than any sane individual would want. And I’ve also learned to come to terms with the fact that society will forever shun me for not finding the “comedy” film Anchor Man funny. The one constant throughout it all is Douglas Adams’ message that life is pretty fucking absurd, and I find that quite comforting some how.
They still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
So no, I don’t have a fancy car on the drive, or job title that impresses other people, but I do have four wonderful children, and they are going to have to look after me when I’m old and smelling of piss, and shouting abuse at the world. So the universe can suck it, because I’ve figured out whats going on. I know the mice are in charge. So until the dolphins all bugger off, and Earth is demolished by an overly bureaucratic species of alien, I’m going to enjoy the absurdity of it all. Fuck dwelling on the fact that I’m 42, and have none to things that society says you need to be successful. If Arthur dent taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with being good at making sandwiches. No, wait… that wasn’t it. Oh fuck it, I’m just going to enjoy my birthday.