Before I went to bed last night, I saw on the news that the voice of the original Trillian from the radio version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy had passed away.
Susan Sheridan, a superb actress, has sadly died at the age of 68.
This is very sad news indeed and my sympathies and thoughts are with this wonderfully talented ladies friends and family.
It also made me reflect a little on why Hitchhikers, by the outstanding Douglas Adams, means something to me.
Hitchhikers first came into my life when I was 18. I was on holiday in Betws y Coed in North Wales (UK) with some guy I was dating at the time. We were in my Aunt’s static caravan, neatly tucked away in the Welsh hills and at the time, all swathed in a cosy darkness.
We snuggled up on the sofa and watched TV one blissful night and there it was – the TV version of Hitchhikers.
It was the anniversary of the show, although I cannot remember which one, which was the reason the old TV series was being shown.
The guy I was dating and I both fell in love with the show that very evening. I think we both became hooked on it there and then.
It became our “thing”. Lot’s of couples have “things” and this was ours, based on watching that show that night.
We’d quote it to one another and giggle at the silliness, the satire and the straight up sci-fi wonderment of it all. It was like Pratchett and I had never thought anyone could tap into that special kind of whimsy – until then.
I even bought it for us on DVD, so we could watch it over and over again (which we did) as we lazily lay in bed and giggled our way to sleep. I remember his Dad even bought it for him in book form (which he ended up selling) as it became so well known as ‘our thing’.
It was in a backwards sort of way that I ended up hearing the radio show. It was repeated on the BBC (possibly radio 4) again, to celebrate an anniversary I can’t remember. It was wonderful and had something a bit more… magical than the TV version. Like the books in the series, it made you imagine everything that you read – the movie in your head is always better than what you see on screen.
Then came the day when I had to walk away from Hitchhikers. Not because I wanted to, but for reasons that will become clear shortly.
As is the case so often with young love, myself and the guy I dated went our separate ways.
But not without him marring my love for Hitchhikers first.
He’d sleazily used the DVD of Hitchhikers I got for us, so I was told, to entice some poor victim to make-out with him to. Gross. Especially when you consider a) he was still with me at the time, b) the whole “come hither to my room and watch a DVD with me, hubba hubba” is nauseating to say the least, c) the people who told me about this taking place were a tad green around the gills themselves and finally d) it isn’t cricket to use a personal thing from your current relationship to try and start a new one with. Ewww.
The very telling thing that bothered me the most was the use of Hitchhikers (as opposed to the whole being cuckolded thing). I hate the fact that that wonderful show was now marred and ruined for me by the knowledge that it had been during him ‘watching’ that with someone else, that I ended up heartbroken. It felt tarred by negative association.
I was much more miffed that he hadn’t gone with a film I didn’t like instead. He had had Star Wars on DVD for crying out loud! I felt more cross that he hadn’t wheeled that crap out instead (I’m a Star Trek kinda girl I’m afraid 😉 ).
I then disassociated myself from the whole Hitchhikers realm completely. I was vastly more bothered about Hitchhikers being spoiled than the demise of the relationship, which says a great deal really (about both the relationship and the love I had for Hitchhikers). I hated my beloved Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect being paraded about for those dodgy, slimy purposes and out of respect, I walked away from them. I forgot how they made me giggle-snort and how Douglas Adams had once managed to reach through the pages or screen and tickle me senseless.
I even asked said former partner for the DVD back when we split up, as a way, I suppose, of guarding poor Zaphod and Marvin from exposure to more sordid sleaze. He refused. Which I guess made sense, in a sick sort of way. He might have to wheel it out again if he needed to pull in the future! Hee hee.
Some years later, when I was engaged to my now husband, I explained all this to him. I told him of my love for Hitchhikers and how it now left a bad taste in my mouth.
So, he decided to do something about it.
The film version came out in 2005, starring Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell,
Zooey Deschanel and the mighty Stephen Fry as the voice of the book.
He took me to a cinema in Leeds (UK), sat me down and made me watch it.
The familiar sound of the theme tune made me feel ill at ease first of all, but then I got into it. Really got into it.
The film in all truth, didn’t do the original radio play or the books justice, although I did like the nods to the older material. The appearance of the TV shows Marv in a queue was great fun to see. I nudged my then fiancé, a Hitchhikers virgin, at that bit and whispered to him the significance of that cameo.
By the end of the film, I found my love for Hitchhikers again.
It wasn’t ultimately a special ‘thing’ between me and some moron I used to date, but something that became a piece of me. It helped shape the way I see the world a little bit and is a way of making me raise the corners of my mouth into a smile when I feel at times I cannot. More importantly, it is lovely to think that a bit of the late, great Douglas Adams is now a part of me. I am glad I reclaimed a joyful bit of my teens. I am glad I managed to clean out the space in my heart where Hitchhikers lives, get rid of the bacteria of some bad memories and pop it back in with love.
Thank you to my lovely man for extracting the bad and re-establishing the good. For turning a frown upside down and for loving himself a bit of Hitchhikers too.
Life at times is a hell, full of bad stuff that seems impenetrable at times. Even the good things can be twisted into something bad.
Remember though: DON’T PANIC!