In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.

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More from Life, the Universe and Everything

“Arthur,” said Ford.
“Hello? Yes?” said Arthur.
“Just believe everything I tell you, and it will all be very, very simple.”
“Ah, well I’m not sure I believe that.”

A tall figure appeared silhouetted in the hatchway. It walked down the ramp and stood in front of Arthur.
“You’re a jerk, Dent,” it said simply.

“The Guide says there is an art to flying,” said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” He smiled weakly. He pointed at the knees of his trousers and held his arms up to show the elbows. They were all torn and worn through.

“I could hardly help it, could I?” he bellowed, “when the same thing kept happening, over and over and over again! Every life I ever lived, I got killed by Arthur Dent. Any world, any body, any time, I’m just getting settled down, along comes Arthur Dent – pow, he kills me.”

After nearly four years of total isolation he was so pleased and relieved to see Ford that he could almost cry. Ford was, on the other hand, an almost immediately annoying person.