When we formed our little NGO a few years back we kept noticing people insulting NGOs and the Third Sector by calling them ‘Golgafrinchan’:

golgafrinchans in government

We didn’t know then but know now that what they were comparing NGOs to was the ‘useless third’ of the population chucked off the planet Golgafrincham in the novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. In this book, the ‘useless third’ of the population of Golgafrincham (telephone sanitisers, public relations executives etc.) are chucked off the planet by the ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’ for being petty, bureaucratic, interfering dullards.  

So why did we call ourselves ‘Live From Golgafrincham’?

Well, we think the joke is on them. If you follow the tale to its conclusion you discover that while the doers and thinkers were able to enjoy a short period of unmolested productivity, it was all over when a virulent disease wiped them off the face of the planet for good. The source of the disease? A dirty telephone.



You see, while ‘good old Douglas’ had some fun at the expense of the ‘useless third’ it seems a fair bet, considering their catastrophic fate, that his real target was the hubris and misplaced confidence of the other two thirds who thought they could get by all on their own.

The Golgafrinchan dirty telephone transposed to earth? Transfats; CO²; Sugar; alcohol; methane; mental health stigma.

The virulent disease contracted from it? Heart disease; climate change; obesity; liver failure; suicide.

So yes, we’re proud to be Golgafrinchan. Because at least we’re still alive. Alive on a new home planet. Live from Golgafrincham!

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