Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Easter

O Almighty God, who alone makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will: grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quotation: The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts

This is taken from an introduction-like essay written by Douglas Adams for the printed scripts of the radio series The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The radio show is in fact the most primitive form of Hitch-Hiker's. It predated the terrible movie by a good twenty-seven years, and the earliest of the novels by a good one years. It doesn't have anything in particular to do with being gay or Catholic, but it's all about writing and is highly entertaining in its own right. It is, ostensibly, written in answer to the question -- which, in fact, few if any authors are capable of answering quite truthfully -- "Where do you get your ideas?"

The story goes that I first had the idea for The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck (or 'Spain' as the BBC TV publicity department authoritatively has it, probably because it's easier to spell).

Apparently I was hitch-hiking around Europe at the time, and had a copy of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Europe ... with me at the time. I didn't have Europe On (as it was then) Five Dollars A Day because I simply wasn't in that kind of financial league.

My condition was brought on not so much by having had too much to drink, as much as having had a bit to drink and nothing to eat for two days. So as I lay there in this field, the stars spun lazily around my head, and just before I nodded off, it occurred to me that someone ought to write a Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy as well.

... However, I wouldn't like to create the impression that all a writer has to do is sit in a field cramming himself with a couple of Stella Artoises whereupon a passing idea will instantly pounce on him, and then it's all over the bar typing. An idea is only an idea.

An actual script, on the other hand, is hundreds of ideas bashed around, screwed up, thrown into the bin, fished out of the bin an hour later and folded up into thick wads and put under the leg of the table to stop it wobbling. And then the same again for the next line, and the next, and so on, until you have a whole page or the table finally keels over.

The problem is you can't go and rave it up in a field every time you need an idea, so you just have to sit there and think of the little bastards. And if you can't think of them you just have to sit there. Or think of an excuse for doing something else. That's quite easy. I'm very good at thinking of reasons for suddenly having a quick bath or a Bovril sandwich. Which is why truthful explanations of how writers get ideas tend to be rather dull:
     I sat and stared out of the window for a while, trying to think of a good name for a character. I told myself that, as a reward, I would let myself go and make a Bovril sandwich once I'd thought of it.
     I stared out of the window some more and thought that probably what I really needed to help get the creative juices going was to have a Bovril sandwich now, which presented me with a problem that I could only successfully resolve by thinking it over in the bath.
     An hour, a bath, three Bovril sandwiches, another bath and a cup of coffee later, I realized that I still hadn't thought of a good name for a character, and decided that I would try calling him Zaphod Beeblebrox and see if that worked.
     I sat and stared out of the window for a while, trying to think of something for him to say ...
... Reading through what I've written so far, I feel I must correct the impression that it's all done with sandwiches, because there's also a lot of playing the guitar very loudly involved as well.


  1. "I wouldn't like to create the impression that all a writer has to do is sit in a field cramming himself with a couple of Stella Artoises"

    Douglas Adams gives me hope. If we needed that water-wannabe-beer that goes by the name Stella Artois, no good writing would ever come.

    1. Hey, be fair. There are *much* worse beers than Stella Artois: Budweiser, for instance, or Miller, or literally anything with "lite" in its name. Stella Artois at least reminds one of good Belgian beers (if only by not being one), which is more than can be said of the "Dutch" Heineken.

    2. Mill Street Organic, all the way.

  2. If you've not heard them, but only read the books (that's an odd phrase), the radio dramas, which predated them, are absolutely marvelous. And I hadn't seen this quote before; thanks for passing it on!

    1. You are more than welcome. And actually the radio series was my first introduction to Hitchhiker's, when we moved across the country from California to Virginia; I still get nostalgic whenever I hear "The Sorcerer's Journey." This is taken from Adams' own introduction to a published edition of the radio scripts, which includes some very engaging and entertaining background notes.