[Narrator] Far out, in the uncharted backwaters at the unfashionable end ...
of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy ...
lies a small, unregarded, yellow sun.
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly 92 million miles ...
is an utterly insignificant, little, blue-green planet ...
whose ape-descended life-forms 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'd 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 cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was 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 demolished to make way for a hyperspace by-pass ...
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, and not from Guildford after all.
His name is Ford Prefect, for reasons which are unlikely to become clear again at the moment, and they are currently hiding in the storeroom of a Vogon spaceship.
[Arthur Dent] What the hell is that?
[Ford Prefect] If we're lucky, it's a Vogon guard come to throw us out into space.
[Arthur Dent] And if we're unlucky?
[Ford Prefect] The Vogon captain might want to read us some of his poetry first.
[Vogon Captain] Oh, freddled gruntbuggly!
Thy micturitions are to me ...
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee ...
That mordiously hath bitled out its earted jurtles.
[MOANING AND SCREAMING]
Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles
Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegruts ...
[Narrator] Vogon poetry is, of course, the third worst in the Universe.
[POETRY (WORST IN UNIVERSE)
(WORST IN UNIVERSE) Thy micturations are to me as plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee. Groop I implore thee my foonting turling dromes, and hooptiously dra --]
The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria.
During a recitation by their poetmaster Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem:
[PUTTY PUTTY PUTTY
GREEN PUTTY GRUTTY PEEN.]
Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I found in my Armpit One Midsummer Morning ...
[ODE TO A SMALL LUMP OF GREEN PUTTY I FOUND IN MY ARMPIT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING.
four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging, and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council only survived by gnawing one of his own legs off.
Grunthos is reported to have been disappointed by the poem's reception ...
[GRARMPITUTTY – MORNING!
PRIDSUMMER – GRORNING UTTY!
PUTTY? … ARMPIT?
ARMPIT … PUTTY
NOT EVEN A PARTICULARLY
NICE SHADE OF GREEN]
and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled "Zen and the Art of Going to the Lavatory" ...
[ZEN AND THE ART OF GOING TO THE LAVATORY
when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life-kind, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.
[DO NOT FALL OVER
YOU ARE A CLOUD
YOU ARE RAINING
DO NOT RAIN
IS STANDING AT A STATION
MOVE WITH THE WIND]
The very worst poetry of all, and its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, of Greenbridge, Essex, England, perished in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison.
[THE DEAD SWANS LAY IN THE STAGNANT POOL
THEY LAY, THEY ROTTED. THEY TURNED
BITS OF FLESH DROPPED OFF THEM FROM
TIME TO TIME.
AND SANK INTO THE POOL’S MIRE.
THEY ALSO SMELT A GREAT DEAL]
[Vogon Captain] Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles
Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegrurts
And living glupules frart and slipulate
Like jowling meated liverslime.
Groop I implore thee ...
My frooting turling dromes
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles ...
Or else I shall rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon
See if I don't!
So, Earthlings ...
[Ford Prefect] I'm not an Earthling.
[Vogon Captain] Quiet! I present you with a simple choice. Think very carefully, for your very lives lie in your hands.
Now choose! Either die in the vacuum of spac,e or tell me how good you thought my poem was.
[Arthur Dent] I liked it.
[Ford Prefect] Huh?
[Arthur Dent] Oh, yes. I thought some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective.
[Vogon Captain[ Yes?
[Arthur Dent] Oh, and interesting ... rhythmic devices ... which seemed to counterpoint the, er ...
[Ford Prefect] Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the, er ...
[Arthur Dent] The Humanity ...
[Ford Prefect] Vogonity ...
[Arthur Dent] Vogonity, sorry! Of the poet's compassionate soul, which strives 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 ... into ...
[Ford Prefect[ Into whatever the poem was about. That was very good.
[Vogon Captain] So, what you are saying is that I just write poetry ...
because underneath my mean and callous, heartless exterior, I just want to be loved, is that it?
[Ford Prefect] Well, I mean, yes, don't we all, deep down, underneath, you know?
[Vogon Captain] No! You're completely wrong.
I write poetry just 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 3 airlock and throw them out.
[Ford Prefect] This is great! This is really terrific!
[Arthur Dent] Ow! Let go of me, you brute!
[Ford Prefect] Don't worry -- I'll think of something.
[Vogon Guard] Resistance is useless!
[Arthur Dent] What is all this, Ford? I woke up this morning, thought I'd have a nice, relaxed day, do a bit of reading, brush the dog. It's just now after 4:00 in the afternoon, and I'm already being thrown out of an alien spaceship five light years from the smoking remains of the Earth.
[Ford Prefect] Alright, just stop panicking!
[Arthur Dent] Who said anything about panicking?
This is just culture shock! Wait till I've settled down and found my bearings! Then I'll start panicking!
[Ford Prefect] Arthur, you're getting hysterical! Shut up!
[Vogon Guard] Resistance is useless!
[Ford Prefect] And you!
[Vogon Guard] Resistance is useless!
[Ford Prefect] Aw, give it a rest! Do you enjoy this sort of thing?
[Vogon Guard] What? What do you mean?
[Ford Prefect] I mean, does it give you a full, satisfying life?
[Vogon Guard] Full, satisfying life?
[Ford Prefect] Yeah, stomping around, shouting, pushing people off spaceships.
[Vogon Guard] Well, the hours are good!
[Ford Prefect] They'd have to be!
[Arthur Dent] Ford, what are you doing?
[Ford Prefect] [To Arthur] Shh! [To Vogon Guard] So, the hours are good, are they?
[Vogon Guard] Yeah. But now you come to mention it, most of the actual minutes are pretty lousy. Except some of the shouting I quite like. RESISTANCE ... !
[Ford Prefect] Sure, yes, you're good at that, I can tell. But if the rest of it is so lousy, why do you do it? The girls?
The rubber? The machismo?
[Vogon Guard] Oh, I don't know, really. I think I just sort of ... do it. You see, my aunt said that spaceship guard was a good career for a young Vogon, you know: the uniform, the low-slung stun-ray holster, mindless tedium.
[Arthur Dent] Ford, this guy's half-throttling me!
[Ford Prefect] Yeah, but try and understand his problem. Here he is, poor guy, his entire life is spent stamping around, pushing people off spaceships ...
[Vogon Guard] And shouting ...
[Ford Prefect] Yeah, and shouting! Yeah! And he doesn't even know why he's doing it.
[Arthur Dent] Oh, poignant, very poignant!
[Vogon Guard] Oh, put it like that ...
[Ford Prefect] Good lad.
[Vogon Guard] All right, but what's the alternative?
[Ford Prefect] Well, stop doing it of course! Tell them you're not going to do it any more. Stand up to them!
[Vogon Guard] Doesn't sound that great to me!
[Ford Prefect] Oh, but that's just the start. There's more to it than that, you see ...
[Vogon Guard] No, if it's all the same to you, I think I'll just get you two shoved out ...
and then get on with some other piece of shouting I've got to do. RESISTANCE IS USELESS!
[Ford Prefect] But come on now, look!
[Arthur Dent] Ow! Stop that!
[Ford Prefect] Hang on! There's music and art and things to tell you about yet!
[Vogon Guard] I think I better just stick to what I know, thanks ...
but thanks for taking an interest.
[Arthur Dent] I've got a headache! I don't want to go to heaven with a headache! I'll be all cross, and I won't enjoy it.
[Ford Prefect] Look. There's a whole world you know nothing about. Now listen. How about this ...?
(he hums Beethoven's Fifth) Doesn't that stir anything in you?
[Vogon Guard] No. Bye.
I'll tell my aunt what you said.
[Ford Prefect] Potentially bright lad, I thought.
[Vogon Guard] (He hums Beethoven's Fifth) Nah!
[Arthur Dent] We're trapped now, aren't we?
[Ford Prefect] Yeah, we're trapped.
[Arthur Dent] Well, didn't you think of anything?
[Ford Prefect] Yeah.
[Arthur Dent] What?
[Ford Prefect] Unfortunately, it involved being on the other side of this hatchway.
[Arthur Dent] So that's it? We're going to die?
[Ford Prefect] Yeah. Except ... no! Wait a minute! What's this switch?
[Arthur Dent] What? Where?
[Ford Prefect] No, I was only fooling. We're going to die after all.
[Arthur Dent] You know, it's at times like this, when I'm stuck in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse 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 Prefect] Why? What did she tell you?
[Arthur Dent] I don't know ... I didn't listen.
[Ford Prefect] Terrific.
[Vogon Captain] "Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor"! Huh! Death's too good for them!