Memories from 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
In the beginning the Hitchhiker's Guide was created. This has made a lot of people very happy, and been widely regarded as a publishing phenomenon. And a science fiction phenomenon. And many many other things, all of them good, all of them bringing a little extra joy into lives.
Apologies for the plagiarism. Originality seems to have flown out the window right now, but I would like to remember my first introduction to the Guide, and what it has brought to me since. So I shall begin again.
I had heard of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy well before I came to read it, my father had been a fan ever since hearing the series on Radio Four well before I was born. I remember he found a set of the tapes of the radio show as a birthday present for my Grandfather, describing it as the perfect present. I first read the books nearly 6 years ago on a holiday. The Isles of Scilly have been a favourite family summer holiday spot all my life. We would go for a fortnight break accompanied by only camping equipment and huge piles of books, and we would sit on the beach in the sun and read. On this particular holiday I ran out of books mid-way through the holiday, and my mother's collection of Trollope and various other classics was unappealing (my father was unable to make that holiday). Fortunately, the campsite we were staying at had a collection of old and second hand books in their campers' barn. One of the books I dug out was 'So Long and Thanks for All the Fish'. When my mother saw it her comment was:
'It's not the first in the series, but read it, you'll enjoy it.'
It remains possibly the only time in my life I have accepted her advice without argument. I fell in love with it straight away. I must have read that book at least three times during the rest of the holiday, and when I returned home I quickly borrowed the other three from the library (I remain unsure as to why my house did not own copies), and read them. I also liked them, but because I read them so fast I did not fully take in their brilliance, and much of 'Life, the Universe and Everything' escaped me. Full addiction to the books did not occur till a little while later.
My father appears to have been the decider of my fate where the Guide has been concerned, and it was when he broke one of the mugs I had been given at my Christening he bought me the paperback omnibus edition of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' in recompense. This time round I read the books more slowly. I would read on the train to school, and in breaks at school, collecting bizarre looks as I giggled out loud at passages, and rejoicing at the premise of 'Life, the Universe and Everything' in relation to my new found love of Cricket. It was from this that a second joy was brought into my life. That of sharing the Guide with others.
My first experience of this came when a classmate of mine noticed what I was reading, and started talking about how much she loved it. Since then I have rarely travelled without my copy of the book - it's now extremely worn, although it doesn't open automatically to a favourite passage, I could never find a particular one. Even when I have been without it, it has proved an immediate conversation topic with people wherever I've been. The Guide, and everything surrounding it, has become one of those things which you can just discuss anywhere with people you've never met before, and go away feeling you've made a few new friends. Even before h2g2 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' gave me an opening into the wonders of the Internet, bringing with it new ideas and new people.
h2g2 expanded that yet further - now half of my email address book consists of people I've not met, but whom I've got to know because of Douglas Adams' amazing work. For those of us who never had the good fortune, I think that is his most important legacy. Having been around the site so much as the news of his death was breaking around the world; it became even clearer to me of what a special community h2g2 has become. Many people could think of nowhere better to come and pay their respects, and to grieve and comfort with people they knew were feeling similar emotions. I have read some truly incredible tributes, which have put these feelings into words far better than I ever could. And I hope that, in spite of the fact that we no longer have the vision of Douglas Adams to guide over us directly, this site will grow and continue as somewhere to share our love of an incredible piece of work, and our memories connected to it.