Douglas Adams would have been 61 today. He is an important person to me for three reasons.
Firstly, he created the Hitchhikers’ Guide to The Galaxy. The radio series of this helped drag me out of some miserable years at school. It gave me something to laugh at, to think about and to learn from. The story, the interplay of the characters and the sheer silliness of it made me glad to be alive. Neither the books, the TV series, the play, the Hollywood movie or even the spin-off towels made much of an impact, but the radio series helped define a different way of looking at the world.
Secondly, Douglas Adams made science, reason and thoughtfulness subjects worth pursuing. Being brought up (pretty unsuccessfully) to believe that life rested on a religious superstructure it was Adams who made me aware that there was more to do than just reject the superstitious insanity of religion. He gave me tools to believe in what was already all around me. This, amazing universe, these incredible brain things we carry around. There was more wonder and delight in a reasoned and scientific understanding of a rainbow or the workings of an eye, than anything the church might offer me.
Thirdly, and rather sadly, Douglas Adams died in a gym. So I tend to stay away from them.