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The town of Portland in Oregon in the United States has a campaign to rename one of its streets after the sadly deceased writer Douglas Adams. For the man who told us that the answer to life the universe and everything was 42 it is apt that 42nd street is the one that has been designated to become Douglas Adams Boulevard. The organisers, Geek in the City along with the specially formed http://rename42nd.org/ have the following message on their website.

“Transforming 42nd Avenue into Douglas Adams Boulevard will reflect upon all those who live and work in the City of Portland.

It will reflect Portlanders’ commitment to the arts.

It will reflect Portlanders’ respect for the environment.

It will reflect Portlanders’ desire to provide technological access to all.

It will reflect Portlanders’ passion to further education to all people.

It will remind all Portlanders’ the most important lesson in times of uncertainty and fear…

…DON’T PANIC. “

What a great idea and a tribute to a superb writer and thinker. I heard the radio series, A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy way back in the late 70’s and have been a fan ever since. He was one of the few authors who could make me laugh out loud and I once embarrassed myself quite badly reading by a pool in Southern France and almost crying with laughter – it was from the ‘Long Dark Teatime of the Soul’ I think. One of his creations is ‘The Meaning of Liff’ with John Lloyd. This is a list of placenames which do nothing other than sit on signposts telling people where to go and have no other use so it’s quite apt that he may become one. They took these words and combined them with the hundreds of feelings, situations and objects which we all know and recognise but for which no word existed. So for example, if you were woking, you would be standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in for, or Gallipoli – the behaviour of the of lower lip when trying to spit mouthwash after an injection at the dentist. You’ll find hundreds more here.

So good luck to Rename42.org I hope you’re successful.

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I watched the various remembrance day commemorations on the various tv channels today and yesterday and was particularly taken with the portrait of Wilfred Owen by  Jeremy Paxman on the BBC.  It was a beautiful and moving portrait of the emergence of a poet and powerful voice in the First World War.  Agonisingly he died on the 4 November 1918, 7 days before the signing of the Armistice on the 11 November 1918.  I had heard a couple of comments that the Remembrance Service is a political campaign – it is not.  It is the simple remembrance of people who have died in the service of their country.  One young man said to me that ‘ In the future it will die out’  I hate to say it but it won’t.  There are still young men and women for whatever reasons losing their lives for the sake of the freedom of other men and women all over the world.  The First World War was the most ridiculous and pointless exercise in political power-play that ever existed but that does not negate the sacrifice that countless young men gave.  Perhaps as an ex-WRAF officer I have a closer link with people who have lost their lives; 5 of my friends are no longer with us as a result of operational duty and so I feel a need to watch the annual events.

On a more flippant note – Strictly Come Dancing had a WWII theme and astonishingly, Brendan was a Flying Officer and Gethin a Wing Commander – do you think the BBC understand the ranking structure of the armed forces?

Today is the 40th birthday of Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4. Radio 1 was launched as a new station after the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act had successfully made the supplying of or advertising on pirate radio stations illegal. As a schoolgirl I and all my friends had listened to Radio Caroline North which was broadcast from a ship off the Isle of Man in the North Sea. I can still remember collecting empty bags of Ross frozen peas to send in for ‘Caroline Cash Casino’. I have no idea how it worked but it certainly caught our imaginations. When the stations were banned we were furious and were not enthused with the idea that the fusty old BBC could even begin to compete with the pirates. Six weeks later and radio one began; I can still remember the jingle and the frequency – 247 mw.

The BBC had of course been providing radio broadcasts since the 1920’s but this saw a complete revamp for the corporation. What was the Light programme became Radio 2, The Third programme became Radio 3 and the Home Service became Radio 4. The Today programme on Radio 4 weekday mornings is in fact celebrating its 50th birthday on the 28th October this year and are asking for contributions from people born on that day.

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