This is the story of the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy— perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most successful book, ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor. More popular than the Celestial Homecare Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things To Do In Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters: Where God Went Wrong, Some More Of God's Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway?. And in many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom. Because although it has many omissions, contains much that is apocryphal—or at least wildly inaccurate—it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important ways: first, it is slightly cheaper, and second, it has the words “ DON ’ T PANIC ” inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover.
To tell the story of the book, it's best to tell the story of some of the minds behind it. A human, from the planet Earth, was one of them—though as our story opens, he no more knows his destiny than a tealeaf knows the history of the East India Company. His name is Arthur Dent, he is a six-foot tall ape descendant, and someone is trying to drive a bypass through his home.
Mr. Prosser: Come off it Mr. Dent you can’t win you know! Look, there’s no point in lying down in the path of progress!
Arthur: I’ve gone off the idea of progress it’s overrated.!
Mr. Prosser: But you must realize that you can’t lie in front of the bulldozers indefinitely!
Arthur: I’m game—we’ll see who rusts first.
Mr. Prosser: I’m afraid you’re going have to accept it! This bypass has got to be built and it is going to be built—nothing you can say or do—
Arthur: Why has it got to be built!!?
Mr. Prosser: Wa-what do you mean, “why has it got to be built?” It is a bypass! You’ve got to build bypasses!
Arthur: Didn’t anyone consider the alternatives?
Mr. Prosser: There aren’t any alternatives.!—but you are quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time.!
Arthur: Appropriate time!!!?
Mr. Prosser: Yes.
Arthur: The first I knew about it was when a workmen arrived at the door yesterday.
Mr. Prosser: t-oh!!
Arthur: I asked him if he’d come to clean the windows and he said he’d come to demolish the house! He didn’t tell me straight away of course—huh, No. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver—then he told me
Mr. Prosser: But Mr. Dent the plans have been available in the planning office for the last 9 months.!
Arthur: Yes!—I went round to find them yesterday afternoon.! You’d hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to pull much attention to them have you!?—I mean like actually telling anybody or anything.
Mr. Prosser: The plans were on display.!
Arthur: Ah!—and how many members of the public are in the habit of casually dropping around the local planning office of an evening?
Mr. Prosser: dwu-ah!
Arthur: It’s not exactly a noted social venue is it!!!? And even if you had popped in on the off chance that some raving bureaucrat wanted to knock your house down, the plans weren’t immediately obvious to the eye were they!!?
Mr. Prosser: That depends where you were looking.
Arthur: I eventually had to go down to the cellar.!
Mr. Prosser: That’s the display department.
Arthur: With a torch!
Mr. Prosser: The lights, had… probably gone.
Arthur: So had the stairs.!
Mr. Prosser: Well you found the notice didn’t you?
Arthur: Yes it was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard.” Ever thought of going into advertising?
Mr. Prosser: It’s not as if it is a particularly nice house anyway.
Arthur: I happen rather to like it!
Mr. Prosser: Mr. Dent!!!!!!!!!!
Arthur: Yes. Hello.
Mr. Prosser: Have you any idea how much damage that Bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?!!
Arthur: How much?
Mr. Prosser: None at all.!
By a strange coincidence “None at all” is exactly how much suspicion the ape descendant Arthur Dent had that one of his closest friends was not descended from an ape, but was, in fact, from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Arthur Dent’s failure to suspect this reflects the care with which his friend blended himself into human society—after a fairly shaky start.
When he first arrived fifteen years ago, the minimal research he had done had suggested to him that the name “Ford Prefect” would be nicely inconspicuous. He will enter our story in thirty-five seconds and say “Hello, Arthur.” The ape-descendant will greet him in return, but in deference to a million years of evolution, he will not attempt to pick fleas off him—Earthmen are not proud of their ancestors and never invite them round to dinner.
Ford Prefect: Hello Arthur.
Arthur: Ford, hi, how are you?
Ford Prefect: Fine. Look are you busy?
Arthur: Well I’ve just got this bulldozer to lie in front of, otherwise…no not especially.
Ford Prefect: There’s a pub down the road—let’s have a drink and we can talk.
Arthur: Heh, Don’t you understand!?
Mr. Prosser: Mr. Dent we’re waiting!!
Arthur: Ford that man wants to knock my house down.!
Ford Prefect: Well he can do it whilst you’re anyway can’t he?
Arthur: But I don’t want him to!
Ford Prefect: Well just ask him to wait til you get back.
Ford Prefect: Arthur!—Will you please just listen to me? I’m not foolin’. I’ve got to tell you the most important thing you’ve ever heard, I’ve got to tell you now, and I’ve got to tell you in that pub there.
Ford Prefect: Because you are going to need a very stiff drink. Now just trust me.!
Arthur: I’ll see what I can do. It had better be good.!
Arthur: Hello Mr. Prosser?!!
Mr. Prosser: Yes Mr. Dent have you come to your senses yet?
Arthur: Um, well, can we just assume for a moment that I haven’t?
Mr. Prosser: Well?
Arthur: And that I’m going to be staying put here til you go away?
Mr. Prosser: So?
Arthur: So you’re going to be standing around all day doing nothing.
Mr. Prosser: Could be…
Arthur: Well if you’re resigned to standing around doing nothing all day, you don’t actually need me here all the time do you?
Mr. Prosser: Uh…no…uh, not, as, such.
Arthur: So if you could just take it as read that I’m actually here, I could just slip off to the pub for half an hour. How does that sound?
Mr. Prosser: Uh, that sounds uh—well, very reasonable I think Mr. Dent. I’m sure we don’t actually need you there for the, whole time. We can just—um—hold up our end of the confrontation.
Arthur: And if you want to pop off for a bit later on I can always cover for you in return.
Mr. Prosser: Oh! – oh thank you! Yes, yes well that’d be fine yes very kind of you sir, very kind.
Arthur: And of course it goes without saying that you, uh, don’t try and knock my house over while I’m away.
Mr. Prosser: Oh, what?!! Good lord no Mr. Dent!!
Arthur: Do you think we can trust him?
Ford Prefect: Myself I’d trust him to the end of the earth.
Arthur: Yes but how far is that?
Ford Prefect: About 12 minutes away. Come on I need a drink
By drink Ford Prefect meant alcohol.
The Encyclopedia Galactica describes alcohol as a colourless, volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. The effect of which is like—“having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one, and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate.
Ford Prefect: Six pints of bitter and quickly please: the world’s about to end.
Barman: Oh yes sir nice weather for it. Going to watch the match this afternoon?
Ford Prefect: No, no point.
Barman: Foregone conclusion you reckon sir. Arsenal without a chance?
Ford Prefect: No it’s just that the world’s going to end.
Barman: Ah yes you said. Lucky escape for Arsenal if it did.
Ford Prefect: No not really
Barman: There you are sir, six pints
Ford Prefect: Keep the change
Barman: What from a fiver? Thank you sir.!
Ford Prefect: You’ve got 10 minutes left to spend it.
Arthur: Ford would you please tell me what the hell is going on?
Ford Prefect: Drink up you’ve got three pints to get through.
Arthur: Three? At lunchtime?
Ford Prefect: Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
Arthur: Very deep. You should send that into the Reader’s Digest. They’ve got a page for people like you.
Ford Prefect: Drink up.
Arthur: Why three pints?!!
Ford Prefect: Muscle relaxants—you’ll need it.
Arthur: Did I do something wrong today or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?
Ford Prefect: All right, I’ll try to explain. How long have we known each other Arthur?
Arthur: Five years maybe six. Most of it seemed to make some kind of sense at the time.
Ford Prefect: All right how would you react if I said that I’m not from Gilford after all but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse?
Arthur: I don’t know. Why do you think it’s the sort of thing you are likely to say?
Ford Prefect: Drink up the world’s about to end.
Arthur: Ohhh. This must be Thursday I never could get the hang of Thursday
On this particular Thursday something was moving through the ionosphere miles above the surface of the planet, but few people on the surface of the planet were aware of it.
One of the six thousand million people who hadn't glanced into the ionosphere recently was called Lady Cynthia Fitzmilton. She was, at that moment, standing in front of Arthur Dent’s house in Cottington. Many of those listening to her speech would probably have experienced great satisfaction to know that in four minutes time she would evaporate into a whiff of hydrogen, ozone, and carbon monoxide. However, when the moment came they would hardly notice, because they would be too busy evaporating themselves.
Lady Cynthia Fitzmilton: I have been asked to come here to say a few words to mark the beginning of work on the very splendid and worthwhile New Beddingford bypass
Crowd: Ah get off stage!
Lady Cynthia Fitzmilton: And I must say immediately what a great honor and a great privilege I think it must be, for you, the people of Cottington, to have this gleaming new motorway going through your cruddy little village. I’m Sorry, sorry, your little country village of cruddy Cottington. I know how proud you must feel at this moment to know that your obscure and unsung hamlet will now arise reborn as the very splendid and worthwhile Cottington service station. Providing welcome refreshment and sanitary relief for every weary traveler on his way.
Crowd: Why don’t you push off you curt face old bag! What about our bloody homes????
Lady Cynthia Fitzmilton: And for myself it gives me great pleasure to take this bottle of very splendid and worthwhile champagne and break it against the noble prow of this very splendid and worthwhile yellow bulldozer
Crowd: Get off! Get off!
Arthur: What’s that?!!
Ford Prefect: Don’t worry they haven’t started yet.
Arthur: Oh good.!
Ford Prefect: It’s probably just your house being knocked down.
Ford Prefect: It hardly makes any difference at this stage.
Arthur: My GOD It is!!!!! What the hell are they doing??!! We had an agreement!
Ford Prefect: Let ‘em have their fun.
Arthur: Damn you and your Fairy stories they’re smashing up my home!!! (running out to his house) Stop you vandals! You home wreakers! You half-crazed Visigoths! Stop!!
Ford Prefect: Arthur! Come back: it’s pointless! Hell, I better go after him. Barman quickly, can you just give me four packets of peanuts?
Barman: Certainly sir. There you are, 28 pence.
Ford Prefect: Keep the change.
Barman: Are you serious sir? I mean, do you really think the world’s going to end this afternoon?
Ford Prefect: Yes in just over 1 minute and 35 seconds.
Barman: Well isn’t there anything we can do?
Ford Prefect: No nothing.
Barman: Well I always thought we were meant to lie down and put a paper bag over our head or something.
Ford Prefect: If you’d like, yes.
Barman: Well will that help?
Ford Prefect: No. Excuse me I’ve got to find my friend.
Barman: Very well then. Last orders please.!
Arthur: You Pinstripe barbarians, I’ll sue the council for every penny it's got!! I’ll have you hung and drawn and quartered…! a-and whipped and boiled…! and then I’ll chop you up to little bits! Until.. until... until you’ve had enough!!
Ford Prefect: Arthur don’t bother there isn’t time get over here there’s only 10 seconds left!
Arthur: And Then I’ll do it some more. AND when I’ve finished I’ll take all the little bits and I’ll… I’ll-I’ll jump on them!! And I’ll carry on jumping on them until I get blisters!!... or I can think of something even more unpleasant to do and then I’ll – WHAT THE HELL’S THAT???
Ford Prefect: Arthur quick over HERE!
Arthur: But what the hell is it??
Ford Prefect: It’s A fleet of flying saucers what do you think it is! Quick you’ve got to get hold of this rock.!
Arthur: What do you mean flying saucers?
Ford Prefect: Just that. It’s a Vogon constructor fleet.
Arthur: A what?
Ford Prefect: A Vogon constructor fleet. I picked up news of their arrival a few hours ago on my sub ether radio.
Arthur: Ford I don’t think I can cope with anymore of this. I think I’ll just go and have a little lie down somewhere…
Ford Prefect: No just stay here, keep calm, and just take hold of this—
Vogon Captain: People of Earth your attention please. This is Prostectic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planet Council. As you no doubt will be aware, the plans for the development of the outlying regions of the western spiral arm of the galaxy require the building of a hyperspace express route through your star system and, regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes thank you very much.
Vogon captain: There’s no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaints and its far too late to start making a fuss about it now.
Crowd roars louder.
Vogon captain: What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh for heaven sake mankind its only 4 light years away you know.! I’m sorry but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own regard. Energize the demolition beams! God I don’t know…apathetic bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all…
Ford: I bought some peanuts.
Ford: If you've never been through a matter transference beam before, you've probably lost some salt and protein. The beer you had should've cushioned your system a bit. How are you feeling?
Arthur: Like a military academy— bits of me keep on passing out. If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?
Ford: We’re safe.
Arthur: Oh good…
Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon constructor fleet.
Arthur: Ah this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn’t previously aware of.
Ford: I’ll have a look for the light.
Arthur: All right. …. How did we get here?
Ford: We hitched a lift.
Arthur: Excuse me.? Are you trying to tell me that we just stuck out our thumbs and some bug-eyed monster stuck his head out and said, “Hi fellows, hop right in, I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout.”?
Ford: Well; the thumb's an electronic sub-ether device, the roundabout's at Barnard's star, six light years away, but otherwise, that's more or less right.
Arthur: And the bug-eyed monster?
Ford: Is green, yes.
Arthur: Fine. When can I go home?
Ford: You can’t. Ah!—I’ve found the light.
Arthur: Good grief! Is this really the interior of a flying saucer?
Ford: It certainly is. What do you think?
Arthur: well it’s a bit squalled isn’t it?
Ford: What did you expect?
Arthur: Well, I don’t know—gleaming control panels… flashing lights, computer screens—not old mattresses.
Ford: These are the Dentrassi sleeping quarters.
Arthur: I thought you said they were called Vogons or something…
Ford: The Vogons run the ship, the Dentrassi are the cooks—they let us on board.
Arthur: I’m confused.
Ford: Here, have a look at this.
Arthur: What is it?
Ford: The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a sort of electronic book—it’ll tell you everything you want to know—that’s its job.
Arthur: I like the cover, “DON ’ T PANIC ”—It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day.!
Ford: That’s why it sells so well. Here, press this button and the screen will give you the index. You’ve got several million entries so fast wind through the index to “v.” … There you are—Vogon Constructor Fleets. Enter that code on the tabulator and read what it says.
Vogon Constructor Fleets
Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: Forget it! They’re one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil but bad tempered, bureaucratic,
officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal—without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.
The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
Arthur: What a strange book. How did we get a lift then?.!
Ford: Well, that's the point, it's out of date now.! I'm doing the field research for the new revised edition of the Guide. So, for instance, I will have to include a revision pointing out that since the Vogons have made so much money being professionally unpleasant, they can now afford to employ Dentrassi cooks—which gives us a rather useful little loophole.
Arthur: Who are the Dentrassi?
Ford: The best cooks and the best drink mixers and they don’t give a wet slap about anything else. And they will always help hitchhikers on board, partly because they like the company, but mostly because it annoys the Vogons. Which is exactly the sort of thing you need to know if you’re an impoverished hitchhiker trying to see the marvels of the Galaxy for less than thirty Altairian dollars a day. And that’s my job—fun isn’t it?
Arthur: It’s amazing.
Ford: Unfortunately I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I intended. I came for a week and was stranded for fifteen years.
Arthur: But how did you get there in the first place?!
Ford: Oh easy.! I got a lift with a teaser. … you don’t know what a teaser is, I—I’ll tell you. Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets which haven’t made interstellar contact yet and buzz them.
Arthur: Ah. Buzz them?
Ford: Yeah. They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul, who no one’s ever going to believe, and then strut up and down in front of ‘im wearing silly antennae on their head and making “beep, beep” noises—hunh, rather childish really.
Arthur: eh-heh-heh. Ford I don’t know if this sounds like a silly question—but what am I doing here?
Ford: Well you know that.! I rescued you from the Earth.
Arthur: And what has happened to the Earth??!
Ford: It’s been… disintegrated.
Arthur: Has it?
Ford: Yes. It just… boiled away into space.
Arthur: Look, I’m a bit upset about that.
Ford: Yes, I can understand.
Arthur: So—what do I do?
Ford: You come along with me and enjoy yourself. You'll need to have this fish in your ear.
Arthur: I beg your pardon!
Vogon Captain: Wa-wa-wa-Weeta elken…
Vogon Captain: …ghfsk caf figgn in…
Arthur: What the devil’s that!?!!
Vogon Captain: …wiza horten ow…
Ford: Listen.! It might be important.
Vogon Captain: …ow…
Vogon Captain: …ze yaben nect zya tow…
Ford: It’s the Vogon Captain making an announcement on the PA.
Vogon Captain: …wa-wa-wa-wa-zeob…
Arthur: But I can’t speak Vogon!
Vogon Captain: …yo oben nicha ywa-ywa-ywa-ywa…
Ford: You don’t need to! Just put the fish in your ear—c’mon, it’s only a little one.
Vogon Captain: … ywa-yi-yi-yi …
Vogon Captain: …yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi should have a good time. Message repeat. This is your Captain speaking so STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND PAY ATTENTION!!!! First of all, I see from our instruments that we have a couple of hitchhiker’s aboard our ship. Hello wherever you are! I just want to make it totally clear that you are not at all welcome! I worked hard to get where I am today, and I didn’t become captain of a Vogon Constructor ship simply so that I could turn it into a taxi service for degenerate freeloaders! I have sent out a search party. As soon as they find you I will put you off the ship—if you’re very lucky, I might read you some of my poetry first. Secondly, we are about to jump into hyperspace for the journey to Barnard Star. On arrival we will stay in dock for a seventy-two hour refit and no one’s to leave the ship during that time! I repeat, all planet leave is cancelled! I’ve just had an unhappy love affair. So I don’t see why anyone else should have a good time. Message Ends.
Arthur: Charming, these Vogons. I wish I had a daughter so I could forbid her to marry one.
Ford: You wouldn’t need to—they’ve got as much sex appeal as a road accident. And you better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace; it’s unpleasantly like being drunk.
Arthur: Well, what’s so unpleasant about being drunk?
Ford: You ask a glass of water.!
Arthur: What’s this fish doing in my ear?!
Ford: Translating for you. Look under Babel Fish in the book.
Arthur: What’s happening?
Ford: We’re going into hyperspace.
Arthur: Eeeuuuhhh! I… I’ll never be cruel to a gin and tonic again.
The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting, telepathically, a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain. The practical upshot of which is, that if you stick one in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech you hear decodes the brainwave matrix. Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:
“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But!,” said Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It proves you exist and so therefore you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that!” and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore he proves that black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing. Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo’s kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme
of his best selling book
Well That About Wraps It Up For God
. Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
Arthur: What an extraordinary book.
Ford: Help me write the new edition.
Arthur: No. I want to go back to Earth again I’m afraid—or its nearest equivalent.
Ford: You’re turning down a hundred billion new worlds to explore.
Arthur: Did you get much useful material on Earth?
Ford: I was able to extend the entry, yes.
Arthur: Well let’s see what it says in this edition then.
Arthur: Let’s see…E…Earth. Tap out the code.
Arthur: There’s the page… weh, it doesn’t seem to have an entry.
Ford: Yes it does, see, right at the bottom of the screen—just under Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six.
Arthur: What there? …oh yes.
Arthur: Harmless?? Is that all it’s got to say??!! One word!! Harmless!!? What the hell’s that supposed to mean???
Ford: Well there are a hundred billion stars in the Galaxy and a limited amount of space in the book. And no one knew much about the Earth of course.
Arthur: Well I hope you’ve managed to rectify that a little.
Ford: Yes.! I transmitted a new entry off to the editor… He had to trim it a bit, but it’s still an improvement.!
Arthur: What does it say now?
Ford: Mostly Harmless.
Arthur: MOSTLY HARMLESS!?!?!!!??
Ford: Well that’s the way it is.!! We’re on a different scale now.
Arthur: Okay Ford, I’m with you. I’m bloody well coming with you. Where are we now?
Ford: Not far from Barnard Star—it’s a beautiful place, and a sort of hyperspace juncture. You can get virtually anywhere from there.
<…KCLK-GLA-GLA, KCLK-GLA-GLA, KCLK-GLA-gla, KCLK-GLA-gla,… >
Ford: That is… assuming that we actually get there.
Arthur: What’s that!??
Ford: Well…if we’re lucky it’s just the Vogons come to throw us into space.
Arthur: And if we’re unlucky…?
Ford: If we’re unlucky the Captain might want to read us some of his poetry first.
Vogon poetry is, of course, the third worst in the Universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet-master, Grunthos the Flatulent, of his poem, Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning, four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging, and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic entitled, My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles, when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, leapt straight up through his neck, and throttled his brain.
The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paul Neil Mill Johnston, of Redbridge, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon Poetry is mild by comparison, and when the Vogon Captain began to read, it provoked this reaction from Ford Prefect:
And this from Arthur Dent:
Arthur: Nyyyah, AHHHHeeuuuuuuaahhhglmp!
Vogon Captain: Oh freddled gruntbuggly…
Vogon Captain: …thy micturations are to me— As purdled gabbleblotchitson lurgid bee.
Arthur: Nyyahhh. Ahhhheughhhhhh
Ford: Euh-ahhhhhhhhhhh Arrggggggghhh
Vogon Captain: Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes.
Arhur: Ewwahhhhhhh. Ehhhhhg. Errrrggggggh
Ford: Nuurrrrrrrgggggggg. Uggghhhhhh. Egggghhhh
Vogon Captain: And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles, for I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don’t!
Arthur: Awwwwgggghhhh. Erggghhhh. Ughhhhhh. Nyawhhhhhhh. Ygggawhhhhhhhh
Ford: Nyyyyahhhhhhh. Gggggghhhhh. Ahhhhhh. WAGHHhhhhhhh. Mmmmggggggghhhhhh
Arthur: Aghhh. Ahhhhh
Ford: Ahhhh. Aghhhh.
Vogon Captain: So—Earthlings, I present you with a simple choice. I was going to throw you straight out into the empty blackness of space to die horribly and slowly, but there is one way-one simple way, in which you may save yourselves. Now think very carefully…for you hold your very lives in your hands! Now choose!: Either die in the Vacuum of Space, or—
Vogon Captain: Tell me how good you thought my poem was.
Will our heroes survive this terrible ordeal? Can they win through with their integrity unscathed? Can they escape without completely compromising their honor and artistic judgment? Tune in next week for the next exciting installment of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
-- FIT THE SECOND --
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the galaxy, lies a small, unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly 90 million miles is an utterly insignificant blue-green planet whose ape-descended lifeforms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has, or had, a problem which was this: Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper… which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy... And so the problem remained. And lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable (even the ones with digital watches). Many were increasingly of the opinion that they all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
And then one day, nearly 2,000 years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl, sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth, suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time. And she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work! And no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and so the idea was lost forever.
Meanwhile, Arthur Dent has escaped from the Earth in the company of a friend of his, who has unexpectedly turned out to be from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. His name is Ford Prefect—for reasons which are unlikely to become clear again at the moment. And they are both in dead trouble with the captain of a Vogon spaceship.
Vogon Captain: So Earthlings I present you with a simple choice. Think carefully for you hold your very lives in your hands. Now choose: either die in the vacuum of space, OR
Ford: I liked it…
Vogon Captain: good
Arthur: Oh yes, I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective.
Vogon Captain: Yes?
Arthur: Oh…. and um, interesting rhythmic devices, too, which seemed to counterpoint the,… uh—
Ford: …counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the,… umm—
Arthur: Humanity of the uh—
Arthur: Oh, Oh! Vogonity, sorry. Of the poets compassionate soul which contrived through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into… uhhhhh
Ford: into what ever it was …
Ford: …that the poem was about.
Arthur: that the poem was about!
Ford: Well done Arthur that was very good.
Captain: So what you’re saying is that I write poetry because underneath my mean, callous, heartless exterior, I really just want to be loved. Is that right?
Ford: uh, well,.. I mean yes, YES, don’t we all, deep down—you know--?
Vogon Captain: No, well, you’re completely wrong. I just write poetry to throw my mean, callous, heartless exterior into sharp relief. I’m going to throw you off the ship anyway! Guard!! Take the prisoners to number three airlock and throw them out.
Guard: Okay Captain.
Ford: You can’t throw us off into deep space we’re trying to write a book!
Guard: Resistance is useless!!
Arthur: I don’t want to die now, I’ve still got a headache. I don’t want to go to heaven with a headache, I’ll be all cross and wouldn’t enjoy it.
Guard: Come on.
Ford: You can’t do this!!!!
Vogon Captain: Why not you puny creature?
Ford: Why not!??? Why not???? Does there have to be a reason for everything? Why don’t you just let us go on a mad impulse??? Go on, live a little, surprise yourself.
Vogon Captain: “…counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor…” hm-hm. Death’s too good for them.
Arthur: NO!… Uggh… Let go of me you brute!
Ford: Don’t you worry, I’ll think of something.
Guard: Resistance is useless!!
Arthur: I woke up this morning and thought…
Arthur: … I’d have a …
Arthur: …nice, relaxed day…
Arthur: … do a bit of reading… brush the dog.
Ford: I know,…
Ford: …I know.
Arthur: It’s just now…
Arthur: …four in the afternoon and I’m already being…
Arthur: … thrown out…
Arthur: …of an…
Arthur: …alien spaceship…
Ford: I know
Arthur: … five light years…
Ford: yes, yes Arthur
Arthur: …from the smoking remains of the Earth!!!
Ford: Alright, just stop panicking!!
Arthur: Who said anything about panicking?!!?? This is still just a culture shock.
Ford: ARTHUR, you’re getting hysterical, SHUT UP!
Guard: Resistance is useless!!
Ford: You can shut up as well!!!
Guard: Resistance is useless!!
Ford: Oh, give it a rest! Do you really enjoy this sort of thing?
Guard: Resistance is……what da ya mean?
Ford: I mean does it give you a full satisfying life? Stomping around, shouting, throwing people out of spaceships?
Guard: The hours are good.
Ford: They’d have to be.
Guard: But now that you’ve come to mention it, I suppose much of the actual minutes are pretty lousy. Uhh, uhh. Except some of the shouting I quite like. Resistance is use—!!
Ford: Yeah, sure, yes,... You’re good at that I can tell… but if it’s mostly lousy, then why do you do it? What is it? The Girls? The Leather? The Makizmo?
Guard: I-I-I- I dunno…I-I-I... I think I, just sort of, do it really. He-uggh.
Ford: There Arthur, you think you’ve got problems.
Arthur: Yes, this guy’s still half throttling me!
Ford: Yeah!, but try an’ understand his problem.
Guard: Right, so, what’s the alternative?
Ford: Well, stop doing it, of course.
Guard: Hmmm…. Hmm…. Uhhh, well, doesn’t sound that great to me.
Ford: Well, wait a minute, that’s just the start! There’s more to it than that, you see??
Guard: Uhhhh…. no. I, I think that if it’s all the same to you, I better just get you both shoved into this airlock and then go and get on with some other bits of shoutin’ I’ve got to do.
Ford: I mean c’mon, I mean now look… uhhhahhhhhhh.
Guard: Thanks for takin’ an interest. Bye now.
Arthur: Stop! Don’t do it!
Ford: No, listen, listen! There’s a, there’s a whole world you don’t know anything about. I mean here,.. how about this? Da da da dum! I mean, doesn’t that stir anything in you???
Guard: I’ll mention what you said to my aunt.
Ford: Potentially bright lad, I thought.
Arthur: We’re trapped now, aren’t we?
Ford: uhhhh,… Yes, we’re trapped.
Arthur: Well didn’t you think of anything???
Ford: Oh Yes.
Ford: But, unfortunately, it rather involved being on the other side of the airtight hatchway they’ve just sealed behind us.
Arthur: So, what happens next?
Ford: The hatchway in front of us will open automatically in a moment and we’ll shoot out into deep space and asphyxiate in about… thirty seconds.
Arthur: So this is it?!? We’re going to die!
Ford: Yes…. except.. NO. Wait a minute! What’s this switch?
Arthur: What!?!???? Where?????
Ford: No I was only foolin’. We are going to die after all.
Arthur: You know it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock, with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young!
Ford: Why, what did she tell you?
Arthur: I don’t know I didn’t listen!!!
Ford: huh, Terrrr-ific!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is truly a remarkable book.
The introduction starts like this:
“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space, listen…” and so on. After a while the style settles down a bit and it starts telling you things you actually need to know. Like the fact that the fabulously beautiful planet, Bethsillamin, is now so worried about the cumulative erosion caused by ten million visiting tourists a year, that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet, is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave. So every time you go to the lavatory there, it’s vitally important to get a receipt.
In the entry in which it talks about dying of asphyxiation thirty seconds after being thrown out of a spaceship, it goes on to say, that with what space being the size it is, the chances of being picked up by another craft within those seconds are 2^267,709 to one against. Which, by a staggering coincidence, was also the telephone number of an Islington flat, where Arthur once went to a very good party and met a very nice girl, whom he entirely failed to get off with. Though the planet Earth, the Islington flat, and telephone have all now been demolished, it is comforting to reflect that they are, in some small way, commemorated by the fact that twenty-nine seconds later, Ford and Arthur were, in fact, rescued.
Electronic Voice: Infinity minus two seconds…Infinity minus for… everybody… . Improbability factor high
Ford: There you are….. I (breath) told you (breath) I’d (breath) think of something.
Arthur: (heavy breathing) Oh sure.
Ford: Bright (breath) idea (breath) of mine; (breath) to find a (breath) passing spaceship (breath) and (breath) get rescued by it.
Arthur: Oh come on! The chances against it were astronomical.
Ford: Don’t knock it, it worked. Now, where are we?
Arthur: Well, I hardly like to say this, but it looks like the seafront at Southend.
Ford: God, I’m relieved to hear you say that.
Ford: Because I thought I must be going mad.
Arthur: Perhaps we weren’t rescued after all… Perhaps we… died.
Ford: What’s that meant to mean?
Arthur: When I was young I used to have this nightmare about dying. I used to lie awake at nights screaming. All my school friends went to heaven or hell and I was sent to Southend!
Ford: Perhaps we’d better ask somebody what’s going on… How about that man over there?
Arthur: The one with the five heads crawling up the wall?
Ford: Uh, yes.
Arthur: Uh, sir? Excuse me.
Man with five heads:
Arthur: uh excuse me. … You know if this is Southend there’s something very odd about it.
Ford: You mean they way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
Trillian: (over general intercom): 2^100,000 to 1 against and falling
Arthur: What was that?
Ford: Sounds like a measurement of probability…. Hey! that couldn’t mean…no!…
Ford: I’m--- well I’m not sure, but it means we definitely are on some kind of spaceship.
Arthur: (in a “phased” voice) Southend seems to be melting away… stars are swirling… the dust bowl… snow…. My legs-- are drifting off into the sunset. Hell! My left arms come off too. How am I going to operate my digital watch now!? Ford You’re turning into a penguin, stop it!
Trillian: (over general intercom): Two to the power of 75,000 to one against and falling.
Ford: (in a high-pitched penguin voice): Hey, who are you? Where are you? What’s going on, and is there anyway of stopping it?
Trillian: (over general intercom): Please relax. You are perfectly safe.
Ford: (in a penguin voice): That’s not the point! The point is that I am now a perfectly safe penguin and my colleague here is rapidly running out of limbs!
Arthur: (normal voice) It’s alright, I’ve got them back now…
Trillian: (over general intercom): 2 to the power of 50,000 to one against and falling….
Arthur: Admittedly they’re longer than I usually like them but uh…
Ford: (in a penguin voice): Isn’t there anything you feel you ought to be telling us?
Trillian: (over general intercom): Welcome to the starship Heart of Gold. Please do not be alarmed by anything you see or hear around you. You are bound to feel some initial ill effects as you’ve been rescued from certain death at an improbability level of two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand, seven-hundred and nine to one against - possibly much higher. We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you. Two to the power of twenty thousand to one against and falling.
Ford: Arthur this is fantastic! We’ve been picked up by a ship with the new Infinite Improbability Drive! This is really incredible Arthur!
Ford: What’s happening?
Arthur: Ford, there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.
The Infinite Improbability Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a few seconds, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. The principle of generating small amounts of finite probability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea), were, of course, well understood—and such generators were often used to break the ice at parties, by making all the molecules in the hostess’s undergarments simultaneously leap one foot to the left, in accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy.
Many respectable physicists said that they weren’t going to stand for that sort of thing, partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn’t get invited to those sorts of parties. Another thing they couldn’t stand was the perpetual failure they encountered in trying to construct a machine that could generate the infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship between the furthest stars. And in the end they grumpily announced that such a machine was virtually impossible.
Then, one day, a student, who had been left to sweep up the lab after a particularly unsuccessful party, found himself reasoning this way, “If such a machine is a virtual impossibility, then, it must logically be a finite improbability! So, all I have to do in order to make one, is to work out exactly how improbable it is, then feed that figure into the finite improbability generator, give it a fresh cup of really hot tea… and then turn it on.” He did this and was rather startled to discover that he managed to create the long sought after Infinite Improbability Generator out of thin air.
It startled him even more when, just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute’s Prize for Extreme Cleverness, he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn’t stand was a smart-arse.
Trillian: (over general intercom): Five to one against and falling. Four to one against and falling… Three to one, two, one. Probability factor of one to one. We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem. Please relax, you will be sent for soon.
Zaphod: Who are they Trillian?
Trillian: Oh, Just a couple of guys we picked up in open space: Sector Zed, Zed nine, plural Zed Alpha.
Zaphod: Yeah, yeah, well that’s a very sweet thought Trillian, but do you really think it’s wise under the circumstances? I mean here we are, on the –run and everything. We’ve got the police of half the galaxy after us and we stop to pick up hitchhikers. Okay, so, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, okay?
Trillian: Zaphod, they were floating unprotected in open space. You didn’t want them to die did you?
Zaphod: No, not as such, no, but…
Trillian: Anyway, I didn’t pick them up, the ship did it all by itself.
Trillian: Whilst we were in Improbability Drive
Zaphod: Hunh, that’s incredible.
Trillian: No, just very, very improbable. Look, don’t worry about the aliens, they’re just a couple of guys I expect. I’ll send the robot down to check them out. Hey, Marvin…
Marvin: I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.
Trillian: Well, here’s something to occupy you and keep your minds off things.
Marvin: It won’t work. I have an exceptionally large mind.
Marvin: Alright, what do you want me to do?
Trillian: Go down to number two entry bay and bring the two aliens up here under surveillance.
Marvin: Just that?
Marvin: I won’t enjoy it.
Zaphod: She’s not asking you to enjoy it, just do it will you?
Marvin: Alright, I’ll do it.
Zaphod: Yeah, good, great, thank you.
Marvin: I’m not getting you down at all am I?
Trillian: No, no Marvin. That’s just fine, really.
Marvin: I wouldn’t like to think I was getting you down.
Trillian: No.! Don’t worry about that. You just act as come naturally and everything will be fine.
Marvin: You’re sure you don’t mind?
Zaphod: No, no, it’s all just part of life.
Marvin: Life. Don’t talk to me about life.
Trillian: I don’t think I can stand that robot much longer Zaphod.
The Encyclopedia Galactica defines a robot as being a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as, “your plastic pal who’s fun to be with.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as, “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.” With a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of Robotics Correspondent.
Curiously enough, an edition of The Encyclopedia Galactica that fell through a time warp from a thousand years in the future, defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as, “a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”
Ford: I think this ship is brand new Arthur.
Arthur: How can you tell? Have you got some exotic device for measuring the age of metal?
Ford: No, I just found this sales brochure lying on the floor. “The Universe can be yours.” Ah, and look, I was right, “Sensational new break through in improbability physics. As the ship’s drive reaches infinite improbability, it passes through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe almost simultaneously. You select your own reentry point. Be the envy of other major governments.” This is big-league stuff.
Arthur: It looks a hell of a lot better than that dingy Vogon ship. This is my idea of a spaceship! All gleaming white, flashing lights, everything. What happens if I press this button?
Ford: I wouldn’t!
Ford: What happened?
Arthur: A sign lit up saying “please do not press this button again.”
Ford: They make a big thing of the ship’s cybernetics. “A new generation of Sirius Cybernetics robots and computers, with the new GPP feature.”
Arthur: GPP? What’s that?
Ford: Uhhh… It says Genuine People Personalities.
Arthur: Sounds ghastly.
Marvin: It is.
Marvin: Ghastly. It all is.
Marvin: Hateful isn’t it. Come on. I’ve been ordered to take you up to the bridge. Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they tell me to take you up to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction, cause I don’t.
Ford: Excuse me, which government owns this ship?
Marvin: You watch this door. It’s about to open again. I can tell by the intolerable air of smugness it suddenly generates… Come on.
Marvin: Thank you the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.
Door: You’re welcome. Hmmmmmm
Marvin: “Let’s build robots with Genuine People Personalities,” they said. So they tried it out with me. I’m a personality prototype, you can tell can’t you?
Marvin: I hate that door. I’m not getting you down am I?
Ford: Which government owns this ship?
Marvin: No government owns this ship. It’s been stolen.
Ford: Who by?
Marvin: Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Ford: Zaphod Beeblebrox?!!!
Marvin: Sorry did I say something wrong? Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it. Oh god, I'm so depressed.
Marvin: Life, don’t talk to me about life.
Arthur: No one even mentioned it.
Ford: Really? Zaphod Beeblebrox!
Radio Announcer: And the news reports brought to you here on the Sub-ether waveband, broadcasting around the galaxy around the clock. And we’ll be saying a big “Hello” to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere, and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together guys! And, of course, the big news story tonight is the sensational theft of the new Improbability Drive prototype ship, by none other than Zaphod Beeblebrox. And the question everyone’s asking is, has the big Z finally flipped? Beeblebrox, the man who invented the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, ex-confidence trickster, part-time Galactic President, once described by Eccentrica Gallumbits, as the Best Bang since the Big One, and recently voted the Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Universe for the seventh time running. Has he got an answer this time? We asked his private brain care specialist, Gag Halfrunt.
Gag Halfrunt: Vell look, Zaphod’s just zis guy, you know.
Zaphod: Hey, what’d you turn it off for Trillian?
Trillian: Zaphod, I’ve just thought of something.
Trillian: We picked those couple of guys up in sec—Zaphod! Please take your hand off me. And the other one. Thank you. And the other one.
Zaphod: I grew that one specially for you Trillian, you know that. Took me six months but it was worth every minute.
Trillian: We picked them up in sector Zed, Zed, nine, plural Zed, Alpha. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?
Zaphod: Uhh, on the whole… no.
Trillian: Well, it’s where you originally picked me up. Let me show it to you on the screen. Right there.
Zaphod: Hey Right! I don’t believe it. How the hell did we come to be there?
Trillian: Improbability Drive. We past through every point in the universe, you know that.
Zaphod: Yeah, but, but, picking them up there’s just too strange a coincidence. I wanna work this out. Computer.
Eddie: Hi there!
Zaphod: uh God!
Eddie: I want you to know that whatever your problem, I am here to help you solve it.
Zaphod: Uh, Look, I think I’ll just use a piece of paper.
Eddie: Sure thing. I understand. If you ever need—
Zaphod: Shut Up!
Eddie: Okay, Okaaay.
Zaphod: Trillian, the ship picked them up all by itself right?
Zaphod: Right. So, that already gives us a high improbability factor. It picked them up in that particular space sector, which gives us another high improbability factor. Plus they were not wearing spacesuits so we picked them up during a crucial thirty second period.
Trillian: I’ve got a note for that factor, here.
Zaphod: Yeah, put it all together and we have a total improbability offffff—yeah, well it’s pretty vast, but it’s not infinite. At what point did we actually pick them up?
Trillian: At infinite Improbability level.
Zaphod: Which leaves a very large improbability gap still to be filled. Look, they’re on their way up here now, aren’t they?
Zaphod: With that bloody robot. Can we pick them up on any monitor cameras?
Trillian: I should think so.
Marvin: …and then of course I’ve got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
Arthur: Is that so.?
Marvin: Oh yes. I mean I’ve asked for them to be replaced, but no one ever listens.
Arthur: I can imagine.
Trillian: Oh, god, I don’t believe it!
Ford: Well, well, well. Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Zaphod: I don’t believe it! This is just toooo amazing. Look Trillian, I’ll just, uh, handle this.—Is anything wrong?
Trillian: I think I’ll just wait in the cabin. I’ll be back in a minute.
Zaphod: Oh this is gonna be great! I’m going to be so unbelievably cool about it, it would flummox a Vagan snow lizard. This is ter-rific! What will you call? Several out of ten million points for style!
Trillian: Well you enjoy yourself Zaphod. I don’t see what’s so great meself. I’ll go and listen for the police on the Sub-Ether Waveband.
Zaphod: Right. Which is the- most- nonchalant chair to be discovered working in it? Yeah… ok.
Marvin: I suppose you’ll want to see the aliens now. Do you want me to sit in a corner and rust, or just fall apart where I’m standing?
Zaphod: Show them in please Marvin!
Zaphod: Ford. Hi. How are you? Glad you could drop in.
Ford: Zaphod, great to see you. You’re looking well… the extra arm suits you. Nice ship you’ve stolen.
Arthur: You mean you know this guy!
Ford: Know him?? He’s…! Oh Zaphod, this is a friend of mine Arthur Dent I saved him when his planet blew up.
Zaphod: Oh sure. Hi Arthur. Glad you could make it.
Ford: And Arthur this is my—
Arthur: We’ve met.
Zaphod: Oh, uh… have we? Hey—
Ford: What do you mean you’ve met????? This is Zaphod Beeblebrox from Betelgeuse five you know, not, not bloody Martin Smith from Croydon!
Arthur: I don’t care; we’ve met. Haven’t we Zaphod? …Or should I say Phil?
Zaphod: Uh…yo—you’ll have to remind me, I have a terrible memory for species.
Arthur: It was at a party.
Zaphod: I rather doubt it.
Ford: Cool it will you Arthur.
Arthur: A party six months ago… on Earth… England…. London…
Zaphod: O-hah, that party…
Ford: Zaphod, you don’t mean to say you’ve been on that miserable little planet as well.!
Zaphod: No, of course not…. Wa—Well, I may have just dropped in briefly,... on my way somewhere…
Ford: What is all this Arthur?
Arthur: At this party there was a girl. I had my eye on her for weeks. Beautiful, charming, devastatingly intelligent, everything I’d been saving myself up for. And just when I’d finally managed to get her for myself for a few tender moments, this friend of yours barges up and says, “Hey doll, is this guy boring you? Come an’ talk to me. I’m from a different planet.” I never saw her again.
Arthur: Yes. He only had the two arms and the one head and he called himself Phil, but—
Trillian: BUT, you must admit that he did actually turn out to be from a different planet Arthur.
Arthur: Good God it’s her! Tricia McMillan! What are you doing here?
Trillian: Same as you Arthur. I hitched a ride. After all, with a degree in math and another in astrophysics, it was either that or back to the dole queue on Monday. Ohh, I’m sorry I missed that Wednesday lunch date—but I was in a black hole all morning.
Zaphod: Oh God! Ford this is Trillian. Hi, Trillian, this is my semi-cousin Ford who shares three of the same mothers as me, Hhhiiiiii. Trillian, is this sort of thing gonna happen every time we use the Infinite Improbability Drive?
Trillian: Very Probably, I’m afraid.
Zaphod: Zaphod Beeblebrox, this is a very large drink…. Hi.
Will our heros be able to enjoy a nice, relaxed evening at last? How will they cope with their new social roles? Will they survive the deadly missile attack which is launched on
them three minutes into the next episode? Find out in next week’s exciting installment of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In that episode of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Peter Jones was The Book, Simon Jones played Arthur Dent, and Geoffrey McGivern, Ford Prefect. Stephen Moore was Marvin; Mark Wing-Davey, Zaphod Beeblebrox; Susan Sheridan, Trillian; Bill Wallis, the Vogon Captain; and David Tate, the Vogon Guard, and Computer. The program was written by Douglas Adams and produced by Geoffrey Perkins, with the assistance of BBC Radio-Phonic Workshop. And it’ll be repeated through a time warp, on the home service, in 1951.
Eddie, the shipboard Computer: Hi there, this Eddie, your shipboard computer.