Prosser: But the plans were on display.
Arthur Dent: On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar.
Prosser: That's the display department.
Arthur Dent: With a torch.
Prosser: The lights had probably gone.
Arthur Dent: So had the stairs.
Prosser: But you did see the notice, didn't you?
Arthur Dent: Oh, yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying "Beware of the Leopard." Ever thought of going into advertising?
Ford Prefect: And no sneaky knocking Mr. Dent's house down while he's away, all right?
Prosser: The slightest thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.
Arthur Dent: Can we trust him?
Ford Prefect: Myself, I'd trust him till the end of the Earth.
Arthur Dent: Yes, but how far's that?
Ford Prefect: About twelve minutes away.
The Book: This is the story of The Hitchhiker'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 Home Care Omnibus, better selling than 53 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?
Prosser: What do you mean, why's it got to be built? It's a bypass. You've got to build bypasses.
Arthur Dent: That man wants to knock my house down.
Ford Prefect: Well, he can do that whilst you're away, can't he?
Ford Prefect: Six pints of bitter, and quickly please, the world's about to end.
Barman: Oh yes, sir? Nice weather for it.
[Ford finally convinces bartender the world is about to end]
Barman: Oh well. Last orders, please.
Ford Prefect: Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
Arthur Dent: Very deep. You should send that in to the Reader's Digest. They've got a page for people like you.
Ford Prefect: How would you react if I told you that I'm not from Guildford after all, but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse?
Arthur Dent: I don't know. Why? Do you think it's the sort of thing you're likely to say?
Ford Prefect: Drink up. The world's about to end.
Arthur Dent: This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
[about the Vogon Constructor ships]
The Book: They hung in the air exactly the same way that bricks don't.
Vogon captain: What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven's sake, mankind, it's only four 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 lookout. Energize the demolition beam. I don't know, apathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all.
Ford Prefect: How are you feeling?
Arthur Dent: Like a military academy. Bits of me keep passing out. Ford? If I were to ask you where the hell we were, would I regret it?
Ford Prefect: We're safe.
Arthur Dent: Ah. Good.
Ford Prefect: We're in a cabin of one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
Arthur Dent: Ah. This is obviously some strange usage of the word "safe" that I hadn't previously been aware of.
Arthur Dent: Good grief. Is this really the interior of a flying saucer?
Ford Prefect: Yes. What do you think?
Arthur Dent: Well, it's a bit squalid, isn't it?
Ford Prefect: Listen. It's a tough universe. There's all sorts of people and things trying to do you, kill you, rip you off, everything. If you're going to survive out there, you've really got to know where your towel is.
Arthur Dent: What are you doing?
Ford Prefect: Preparing for hyperspace. It's rather unpleasantly like being drunk.
Arthur Dent: What's so wrong about being drunk?
Ford Prefect: Ask a glass of water.
[Arthur Dent looks up "Earth" in the Hitchhiker's Guide]
Arthur Dent: What's it say? "Harmless." Just one word? Harmless?
Arthur Dent: What the hell's that?
Ford Prefect: Well, if we're lucky, it's the Vogon Guard come to throw us into space.
Arthur Dent: And if we're unlucky?
Ford Prefect: The Vogon Captain might want to read us some of his poetry first.
Arthur Dent: I like the cover. "Don't Panic". It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anyone's said to me all day.
The Book: 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 with a slice of lemon... wrapped round a large gold brick.
Ford Prefect: Hey, hagro-biscuit. The greatest. You'll love these guys. They cook the hoopiest frood food in the whole of the west galaxy. Go on, have a bite. Go on, go on, go on, try it. Your mouth will love you for the rest of your life.
The Book: The argument runs something like this. "I refuse to prove that I exist", says God, "for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing." "But", says 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 vanishes in a puff of logic. "Oh, that was easy", says Man, and for an encore he goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing. Most leading thelogians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys. But this didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme for his best selling book, "Well That About Wraps It Up For God." Meanwhile the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communications between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
Prosser: Mr. Dent?
Arthur Dent: Hello, yes?
Prosser: Have you any idea how much damage this bulldozer would suffer if I were to let it roll straight over you?
Arthur Dent: How much?
Prosser: None at all.
The Book: "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.
The Book: Vogon Constructor Fleets... here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon. Forget it. They are one of the worst 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 Ravemnous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
Mr. Prosser: You can't lie in front of the bulldozers indefinitely.
Arthur Dent: I'm game. We'll see who rusts first.
Mr. Prosser: Mr. Dent!
Arthur Dent: Hello, yes!
Mr. Prosser: Have you any idea of how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?
Arthur Dent: How much?
Mr. Prosser: None at all.
The Book: The Guide 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 around a large gold brick. The Guide also mentions on which planets the best Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate.
Arthur Dent: [after they've arrived on board the Vogon ship] If I asked where the hell we were, would I regret it?asked where
Ford Prefect: We're safe.
Arthur Dent: Oh, good.
Ford Prefect: We're in a small galley cabin on one of the ships in the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
Arthur Dent: Ah! This is obviously some strange use of the word "safe" that I wasn't previously aware of.
Arthur Dent: How did we get here?
Ford Prefect: We hitched a lift.
Arthur Dent: Excuse me! Are you trying to say that we just stuck out our thumbs and some green bug-eyed monster stuck his head out and said "Hi, fellas, hop in, I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout"?
Ford Prefect: Well, the thumb's an electronic sub-ether device, the roundabout's at Barbard's Star, six light-years away, but otherwise that's more or less it.
Arthur Dent: And the bug-eyed monster?
Ford Prefect: [grinning] It's green, yes.
Arthur Dent: [to Mr. Prosser, talking about the impending demolition of his house] The first I knew about it was when a workman arrived at the door yesterday. 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; no, first he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver, *then* he told me!
The Book: This is the story of the Hitchhiker'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 53 More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolong 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 Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom. For though it has many omissions, contains much that is hypocrofal or at least uwarrently inaccurate it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First is slightly cheaper and secondly it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover. To tell the story of the book it is best to tell the story of some of those whose lives it affected. A Human from the planet Earth was one of them. Though, as our story opens he no more knows his destiny than a tea leaf 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.
Ford Prefect: Hello, Arthur.
Arthur Dent: Ford! Hi, how are you?
Ford Prefect: Fine. Look, are you busy?
Arthur Dent: Well, I've just got this bulldozer to lie down in front of, but otherwise no.
Arthur Dent: [the Vogan guard has found them] What's that?
Ford Prefect: Well, if we're lucky, it's just the Vogans come to throw us into deep space.
Arthur Dent: And if we're UN-lucky?
Ford Prefect: The captain might want to read us some of his poetry first.