After a moment a voice replied, “It isn't easy being a cop!” Human beings are great adaptors, and by lunchtime life in the environs of Arthur's house had settled into a steady routine. It was Arthur's accepted role to lie squelching in the mud making occasional demands to see his lawyer, his mother or a good book; it was Mr Prosser's accepted role to tackle Arthur with the occasional new ploy such as the For the Public Good talk, the March of Progress talk, the They Knocked My House Down Once You Know, Never Looked Back talk and various other cajoleries and threats; and it was the bulldozer drivers' accepted role to sit around drinking coffee and experimenting with union regulations to see how they could turn the situation to their financial advantage. “What, the question?” said Arthur. A slight hiss built into a deafening roar of rushing air as the outer hatchway opened on to an empty blackness studded with tiny impossibly bright points of light. Ford and Arthur popped into outer space like corks from a toy gun. 9 “It's just life,” they say. “Well?” said Ford impatiently. “Do we go through?” Zaphod scribbled a few sums, crossed them out and threw the pencil away. “That's it,” said Ford. “That's it exactly.” He was glad it wouldn't now be him who delivered the report they'd just received. The report was an official release which said that a wonderful new form of spaceship drive was at this moment being unveiled at a government research base on Damogran which would henceforth make all hyperspatial express routes unnecessary. do it really. My aunt said that spaceship guard was a good career for a young Vogon — you know, the uniform, the lowslung stun ray holster, the mindless tedium…” Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz smiled very slowly. This was done not so much for effect as because he was trying to remember the sequence of muscle movements. He had had a terribly therapeutic yell at his prisoners and was now feeling quite relaxed and ready for a little callousness. “We have to have something that sounds good,” said Benji. “Drink up,” he urged. Ford went and had a look at it. It was a series of figures flashing over a screen. He was busy staring at two white mice sitting in what looked like whisky glasses on the table. He heard the silence and glanced around at everyone. On this particular Thursday, something was moving quietly through the ionosphere many miles above the surface of the planet; several somethings in fact, several dozen huge yellow chunky slablike somethings, huge as office buildings, silent as birds. They soared with ease, basking in electromagnetic rays from the star Sol, biding their time, grouping, preparing. 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. “Death's too good for them,” he said. Arthur Dent moved, and groaned again, muttering incoherently.
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“The couple of guys we picked up.” And thus were created the conditions for a staggering new form of specialist industry: custom-made luxury planet building. The home of this industry was the planet Magrathea, where hyperspatial engineers sucked matter through white holes in space to form it into dream planets — gold planets, platinum planets, soft rubber planets with lots of earthquakes all lovingly made to meet the exacting standards that the Galaxy's richest men naturally came to expect. “What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? 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. Ford stared at it in astonishment. “And the Vogons came and destroyed it five minutes before the program was completed,” added Arthur, not unbitterly. Zaphod loved effect: it was what he was best at. “How long?” he said. Zaphod leaped out of his seat. When you're cruising down the road in the fast lane and you lazily sail past a few hard driving cars and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself and then accidentally change down from fourth to first instead of third thus making your engine leap out of your bonnet in a rather ugly mess, it tends to throw you off your stride in much the same way that this remark threw Ford Prefect off his. “No, I don't think so,” said Zaphod. “I think they just didn't like it very much.” “I can't either,” said Arthur, who felt it was time he began to assert himself. “Shade your eyes…” he said, and turned it on. “And you're ready to give it to us?” urged Loonquawl. “I am.” Ford leaped to his rescue, hazarding “counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the… er…” He floundered too, but Arthur was ready again. “Er, no,” he said. Arthur Dent sat and quivered. He had no idea what he was in for, but he knew that he hadn't liked anything that had happened so far and didn't think things were likely to change. Ford went and had a look at it. It was a series of figures flashing over a screen. They waited. Something extraordinary happened to Ford's face. At least five entirely separate and distinct expressions of shock and amazement piled up on it in a jumbled mess. His left leg, which was in mid stride, seemed to have difficulty in finding the floor again. He stared at the robot and tried to entangle some dartoid muscles.