In the glory days of my library visits when I almost lived there, I one day found an audiobook version of The Long Dark Tea-time Of The Soul by Douglas Adams READ by Douglas Adams.
It took some blinking and some reordering of brain cells to fully appreciate this amazing fact.
A book read by the author who wrote it, in the fashion they intended it to be received.
I borrowed it.
I listened to it.
I fell in love with it.
Douglas Adams' excitable and energetic delivery was eternally engaging*.
I borrowed it over and over again until the cassettes were so badly damaged by the dodgier cassette players of the other people who occasionally managed to borrow them, that the library had to retire them.
Then for years that was it.
I was neither old enough nor internet savvy enough to go searching for them online**, they were no longer available in the stores and I had no other avenues of pursuit.
In recent years I tried the stores again with no result, tried the online retailers for the first time and found the only version readily available was being sold for over $100 and seemed to be a copy that somebody had made from recording their own set of cassettes onto blank CDs which they were the selling online.
I gave up.
And then the other day my brother found not only Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul but also Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency online and downloaded them for me.
For this he was elevated to the rank of Best Brother! Favourite Brother! Amazing Brother!***
For me listening to that audiobook is like stepping into the past. Into quiet hours after midnight when the only person awake was me, listening with the volume turned down low, eating bowls of air-popped popcorn because the smell of hot oil popped popcorn would have woken everyone up.
It gives me a wonderful sense of calm and deja vu.
Listening to it again for the first time in years made me feel wonderfully happy but also somewhat guilty.
I'm not that into downloading things from the internets.
I don't mind watching something once if I've missed it on TV or in order to decide whether I like it or not but if I do like it then I want to own it.
I like to pay money for the things I like and to own them properly in lovely complete formats.
Now as hard as I tried when it came to Douglas Adams and his marvellous reading voice, I couldn't make this a reality, I could not find a legitimate copy anywhere. So I made peace with this by making a donation to Save the Rhino which I'm sure Douglas would have been happy with. I don't know who is in charge of his estate these days but given his passion for conservation I think he'd agree that his executor/heir could do without the royalties if it meant helping rhinos****.
And now with my conscience soothed I can get back to listening to this wonderful, weird man rambling gloriously, letting the chaos of his brain spill out into the world, and regretting all the things he never had time to write but being grateful for the things he did have time to give us.
**Many of the online retailers we rely on today may not have existed or at least existed in their current efficient incarnation at that stage anyway.
***Heh, he's my only brother.
****I would find it wonderfully amusing if the benefactors of his estate were wildlife charities in any case.