Lemon Soaked Napkins

Bored Now

As the Byakhees and others know, I like to get a move on with things and can’t stand petty paperwork, indecision and so on.
Hence, I often comment that we are waiting for Lemon Soaked Napkins.

From The Hitch hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (radio series)

Ford & Zaphod Beeblebrox are searching for Zarniwoop (and his cat) on the planet Brontitall and find a derelict spaceport that contains a number of crumbling old spaceships, one of which is still on power, “delayed” for over 900 years due to the non-arrival of its complement of lemon-soaked paper napkins. Zaphod creates a stethoscope for both heads out of some pieces of tubing, and is shocked at what he hears inside. Ford asks to listen, and finally, everyone gets to hear an android stewardess making an announcement about their delayed space flight:

“Transtellar Cruise Lines would like to apologize to passengers for the continuing delay to this flight. We are currently awaiting the loading of our complement of small lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment and hygiene during the journey. Meanwhile we thank you for your patience. The cabin crew will shortly be serving coffee and biscuits again.”

The ship is waiting for life on the current planet to evolve, civilizations to arise, and manufacturers to provide the lemon-scented napkins…

“Nine hundred years” he breathed to himself. That was how late the ship was.”
How could he have ever known that it was 900 years? Perhaps he could visually analyze the intergalactic dust that settled on the ship’s rudder … or ?
ANSWER: There was a reader board with a list of departures. So he simply did the math.

At this point, we go back to Ford and Zaphod entering the very late space ship, just as the passengers are being woken from suspended animation for coffee and biscuits. Ford and Zaphod flee the scene, eventually arriving on the flight deck, where they are continually ordered by the autopilot to return to their seats. The autopilot argues with them over the statistical likelihood of another civilisation delivering the lemon soaked paper napkins required by the spaceship before it can depart, and Ford and Zaphod flee again, this time to the First Class compartment.

Now, if you happen to know where your towel is and therefore you are a hoopy frood, this will have all made sense.

One Response to Lemon Soaked Napkins

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