It took me quite a while to get round to reading And Another Thing, part six of three of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I spotted the special edition last year with its wonky neon title on the box cover and the hardback inside with the powder blue towel embroidered with the words “Don’t Panic” and was tempted.
Then I saw the £100 price tag and the temptation passed.
I bought the paperback a couple of months ago, but it sat on the window ledge untouched and I’m not sure why. Perhaps I was subconsciously trying to avoid possible disappointment because it was written by Eoin Colfer and not the late Douglas Adams — “The man, the legend, almost smart as a mouse.”
I’m sure lots of people now claim to have heard the original H²G² radio series in 1978, despite its low-key launch, but in my case it is true. I worked in the brewing industry at the time which took me out and about a lot in the evening and I can recall being in my car in the dark streets of Halifax at 10:30pm on a wet Wednesday when I switched on Radio 4 and the “Journey of the Sorcerer” first entered my auditory receptors.
I was hooked. On my bookshelf are the books and the scripts and down in the cellar are the talking books that I used to listen to in the car. Also a box that contains each and every one of the radio episodes on audio cassette that I can no longer play because I have no retro technology. Someday I will transfer them to CD, probably the day before they also becomes obsolete.
I’m telling you this just to underline how odd it should be that I should have left And Another Thing for so long, but there it is. I can’t explain it. Perhaps the Guide can.
It is well worth a go if quirkiness is your thing. Colfer takes Adams’ original premise and then stamps on it hard with his own eccentricity like a Vogon QUEST* missile. There is no point trying to condense the plot as it makes little sense even if you have read it. Very much one of those “you had to be there” novels.
Except to say that Colfer has a wide vocabulary to the point where I thought he was making words up. But he wasn’t, at least not the ones I looked up. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt so I’m taking a risk here, but a few of the words I hadn’t heard of included:
- Tyromancy — divination by the curds of cheese
- Noctilucent — ragged edged [of clouds]
- Autolatrous — self worship
- Tapotement — term used in Swedish massage
- Gowpen — a double handful [Scots]
But absolutely the most froody word of them all is gobemouche. I won’t reveal what it means because it is so intense and powerful, such a definite killer definition, that it can only be used once per an entire blog and I want to save it for when I really, really need it.
Oh zark. I’ve only gone and wasted it haven’t I?*’QUEST stands for Quite Unwieldy Experimental Sublimation Torpedo.’ Mown did not think that having the word ‘experimental’ in a weapon’s name was very encouraging.