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I put out a call on twitter today for suggestions on topics for this next blog post. Most of the replies were to technically ridiculous, I couldn’t spell them again if my life depended upon it. So it seems that when you remove the ridiculous you are left with the outright lunacy of @holuxuxa who suggested “the answer to life, the universe and everything”.

Douglas Adams would have it that the answer is 42. I doubt this for several reasons.

  • I was 42, once, for a whole year and I didn’t understand the world any better then than I do now I’m 21. Again..
  • 42 is not a prime number nor does it occur in Fibonacci’s sequence. If 42 were so special, it’d be in at least one of these. Preferably both.
  • I watched a lot of Charmed back in the day. I have a daughter of the right age, OK? Anyhoo, according to the witchy sisters, it was all about the power of three and while three is a factor of 42, so is 1, 2, 7… you get the idea. Not sounding so special now, is it?
  • Wikipedia’s definition of 42 is as follows: “The natural number following 41 and preceding 43.” *yawn*  Sorry, did I miss something deep and mystical there? Thought not. But it did go on to tell us about some interesting facts about Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland.
    • The book contains 42 illustrations.
    • Rule 42 in the court of the Red Queens stated that all persons more than a mile high should leave the court.
    • In The Hunting of the Snark the Baker had “forty-two boxes, all carefully packed, with his name painted clearly on each”.

Interesting stuff, but hardly world shattering.

  • The former country of Czechoslovakia’s dialling code is +42. Yeah, so what? Didn’t exactly lead to world domination for them.
  • Coldplay has a track called 42 on Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends. Nuff said.
  • There are several companies out there called Forty Two something or other but not one of them is challenging Steve Jobs for world domination.

    On balance, I think it’s fair to say that while he wrote some very entertaining books, Douglas Adams knew nowt about the Big Question.

    I will tell you what I think it should be all about though. The answer should be about following our hearts until our heads tell us to stop being ridiculous and grow up. We don’t need to stop, but we should listen. That’s another thing: we should all talk less and listen more. Modern life is filled with so much NOISE we’ve forgotten how to just shut up and listen to what the other person is saying. Communication is two-way and there are too many head-on collisions with other people that could be avoided if we listened more. Caring a bit more for other people might be good too. At least let’s care about people more than money or things. And whatever else the answer is, I secretly believe it includes a poodle.

    [tweetmeme source=”nettiewriter”


    Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

    10 thoughts on “42

    1. What a lovely post Nettie! It made me smile. I was 42 the year before last and I too waited in vain for enlightenment. You are right, it is about the fundamentals; listening and caring. Perfect.

    2. I had a party for my 42nd. I dressed up as Madame Sosostris from TS Eliot’s The Wasteland and nobody knew what I meant.
      I shall work some more on the answer you suggest. It may involve a headectomy…..
      You have been warned.
      great post!

    3. Well I was 42 once and I found out the answer to the universe and everything…I can’t tell you though or I’d have to kill you. That would be really upsetting as I really like you, and I really don’t like the idea of going to prison for the next few years or so.

      So yes the answer to a happy life is to do all the stuff you suggested and think positive. I always try to see the best in folk as much as I can. I’m no Pollyanna though, so normally avoid evil weevils taking me for a ride….normally. Anyway, I secretly believe the answer includes cats, lots of them. 🙂

    4. I agree – there was nothing special about the number 42 as I recall. Perhaps the no 42 bus goes somewhere interesting? Or nowhere at all?

      Great post Nettie. You are right about what we ought to be doing. HOW is the key question. Topic for another blog?

    5. Great post Nettie. I’m a religious type, you’re not, but what you say is not a million miles away from my own thoughts (though poodles don’t feature in mine, sadly). Incidentally, my house is number 42 … perhaps the secret is right here.

    6. Lovely thoughtful post that was also really funny; great mix of humour & depth. You are so right, we do not listen to each other anywhere near enough.

    7. I’m a freelance presenter on astronomy and space exploration, and I travel all over the UK and abroad giving talks on space.
      I was invited to give a talk last October at the Whirlpool Star Party at Birr in Ireland. The Whirlpool is the name of the galaxy first studied in detail by the Earl of Rosse, who built what was then the largest telescope in the world at Birr, completed in 1845.
      Flying to Ireland, I bought a bar of chocolate at the airport; I thought it would be appropriate to buy a bar of Galaxy, and on the wrapper it said that it had 42 kilocalories! When I arrived at the hotel in Birr, I was told my room was on the second floor; there were 42 stairs up to the second floor, where I had been given … room 42!!
      To finish things off, I gave my talk on 10 October, 2010 – that is “10/10/10”, and the number “101010” is binary for … 42!!!
      I’m not making this up – I have photos to prove it. There was something very special going on that weekend 🙂

      1. Ooh – the Twilight Zone theme tune is playing in my ear as I write this. Spooky!
        Also, I am your new groupie – I’m a space freak. I’m sure Prof Brian Cox will mis me….

    8. My sentiments exactly and growing older bought me to the reality of that belief. If EVERYONE thought this way the world would be a better place.

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