Here at the ‘International Towel Day’ news desk, we love the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ characters — and it’s pretty clear that you do, too. So, when we recently caught a few minutes of one of our favourite movies of the decade, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ on TV, it got us thinking: What happened to the characters in that movie who weren’t Arthur Dent or Tricia McMillan (Trillian)? And how about Ford Prefect — where’s he been? After the jump, we satisfy our curiosity (and hopefully yours, too) by checking in on some of our favourite movie stars.
For a few short years, Betelgeuse-born, British-raised (well, sort of) Ford Prefect was the ideal crush object for weird girls everywhere. Now 39, Ford Prefect has taken a change in career and settled on Earth, just on the outskirts of Dorset and is currently running his own restaurant that he’s named ‘Milesaway’. These days he spends most of his time hitch hiking the Universe in search of new recipes. He did make a guest appearance on a show a few years ago, as a colleague’s hallucination. And in 2009, Ford played the recurring role of ‘Mr Tinkle’ (A six foot tall, bright pink cat) on a children’s TV show, but later decided it wasn’t for him after he developed a real-life obsession outside of the studio with chasing pigeons and pieces of string. Most recently, Ford co-starred with some huge names in the cookery world — Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal and Rick Stein (whom Ford believes is actually Douglas Adams in hiding due to ‘tax reasons’) — in a cookery thriller called Poisson Play, which was supposed to come out last year but (and this is kind of a bad sign) still hasn’t set a release date.
We managed to grab a few minutes with Mr Prefect in his very own kitchen and ask him a few questions:
I asked, ‘Where do you get most of your produce for the restaurant, you have the entire galaxy with a thousand planets and what must be a billion different foods to choose from?’ With a slight grin, Ford replied, ‘Belgium… although, most of the meat is local pigeon.’ (Ford is known to still be under therapy for his ‘Mr Tinkle’ problem, so I didn’t pursue this line of questioning any further.)
When asked about his strange opening times for the restaurant, he replied, ‘Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.’ Very deep, I thought. He should send that in to Reader’s Digest. They’ve got a page for people like Ford.
Ford disappeared into the kitchens for a short period of time allowing me to sip my slightly warm Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and stare at the staggeringly extravagant decor, when he returned in a something of a fluster…
[Shouting at his head chef] ‘Wash your filthy hands!’ [Looks around to see me standing there with a surprised look on my face] ‘Don’t panic… don’t panic… It’s just that, Douglas forgot that the Betelgeuse-wombat can’t be killed before it’s cooked… you did have the fish right?’
Having just eaten the wombat and now frantically searching for my towel, I asked, ‘So this is it.’ ‘We’re gonna die from hygiene problems?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘We’re gonna die.’ [Pauses] ‘No… no! What’s this?’ [Goes over to what he believes is his hygiene certificate] ‘What’s that?’ I asked. ‘What’s this…?’ ‘What’s this…?’ [Reads the form carefully and realising it’s another letter to Douglas Adams from the tax office] ‘This… is… nothing.’ ‘Yeah, we’re gonna die.’
Several stomach pumps later and a couple weeks of rest, I managed to track down and speak with Marvin, the Paranoid Android. Marvin is the ship’s robot aboard the starship Heart of Gold. Originally built as a failed prototype of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s GPP (Genuine People Personalities) technology, Marvin is afflicted with severe depression and boredom, in part because he has a “brain the size of a planet” which he is seldom, if ever, given the chance to use.
The first thing I decided to ask Marvin was, ‘What are you doing now that you live on earth under a government protection program?’
‘You think you’ve got problems.’ ‘What are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot?’ ‘No, don’t even bother answering.’ ‘I’m 50,000 times more intelligent than you and even I don’t know the answer.’
‘Is it true that during your kidnapping experience, your kidnapper’s tried to force you into making the best social network on the planet?’
‘They did…’ ‘It’s called “Facebook”, ‘they knew about my Genuine People Personalities.’ ‘I’m a personality prototype.’ ‘You can tell, can’t you…?’ ‘The first ten million years were the worst.’ ‘And the second ten million…’ ‘they were the worst too.’ ‘The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all.’ ‘After that, I went into a bit of a decline.’ ‘Forced to work day and night on the project, I asked, “Do you want me to sit in a corner with the server and rust or just fall apart where I’m standing?”’
‘How did you feel when “Facebook”’ went live?’
‘I’ve been talking to the main computer.’
‘And…?’ I asked.
‘It hates me.’ ‘And if you humans are looking for the ultimate answer, [talking about the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything] it’s printed in the ‘Facebook’ server patterns, but I don’t suppose you’d be interested in knowing that.’ ‘You mean you could see it on my mobile phone here and now?’ I asked.
‘Oh, not another one…’ ‘It amazes me how you manage to process anything on something that small.’
Trying not to take offense, I continued with my line of questioning… ‘So, how do you pass the time now you’re able to do what you want and live free of human command?’ ‘There’s a whole new life stretching out in front of you.’
‘I’ve calculated your chance of survival, but I don’t think you’ll like it.’
‘But we’re making positive steps in making Earth green again.’
‘I’ve seen Earth… it’s even worse than I thought it would be.’ ‘This will all end in tears.’ ‘I’d make a suggestion, but you wouldn’t listen.’ [Even more depressed] No one ever does.’
‘Whatever the outcome of the court case, the creation of “Facebook” has changed the world forever!’ ‘You must feel very proud?’
‘Not really’ said Marvin. ‘”Marvin, can you pick up that piece of paper?” they asked.’ ‘Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.’ ‘It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.’
Having felt that I had upset Marvin, I took this moment as an excuse to leave and travel on to find our final character… Zaphod Beeblebrox, fashion advisor and owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways.
‘Hello Zaphod!’ ‘Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your new found career here on Earth?’
[Turning to his stunningly attractive female advisor, and speaking in a lowered voice] ‘She digs me.’ ‘But that doesn’t sound good.’
Desperately trying to continue the interview without pointing-out that, I am in fact, a man. ‘What do you say to people who comment on your remarkable resemblance to Sir Richard Branson, the previous company owner of Virgin Airways?’
His reply came back slightly annoyed, ‘Zarquon!’ ‘What was that?’ ‘Geez…’ ‘If there’s anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot now!’ ‘As I said before I got arrested and then went on to buy the company [turning to brag to his advisor…], ‘Yeah baby!’ ‘I got really rich from selling The Heart of Gold’ ‘In the name of people, and freedom, and democracy, and stuff like that, I hereby kidnap myself, and I’m taking this plane with me.’ ‘Whoo…!’
Changing the subject quickly, ‘I understand that you also advise Jean Paul Gaultier on his Pret-a-Porter fashion design.’ ‘Is that true?’
‘Yeah baby!’ ‘I said to Jean Paul, “Hey slim, are you wearing my underwear?” “Cause I’m wearing yours, and they’re not doing the trick.”’ ‘After that, he wouldn’t leave me alone.’ ‘He wanted me to work closely with him, but I said [with a wide grin and flicking his hair back over his shoulder], “I can’t do this without my third arm!”’
‘Before you resigned as President of the galaxy, did you ever find the answer to the universe?’ I asked.
‘Oh, I tried “GOOGLE” whilst in deep thought!’ ‘I typed in to the computer ‘Have you calculated the ultimate question?’
“GOOGLE” replied, ‘No.’ ‘I’ve been watching the TV.’ ‘So, I left it alone after that.’
‘By the way, I like those jammies Earthman, where did you get them?’
‘On Richmond High Street’ I replied.
‘Is that on Earth?’
‘Yes it is.’
‘Yeah, Earth.’ ‘I like Earth.’ ‘I got these boots on Earth.’ ‘Anyway, don’t tell the girl, OK?’ ‘Cause if you do, I’ll pull your spleen out through your throat.’ ‘She doesn’t like anything that I haven’t designed.’
More than slightly nervous about Zaphod’s intentions, I pretended to receive a fake phone call and say in a loud and convincing voice, “What’s that?” “My goldfish has just caught fire?!” before apologising to Zaphod and scampering from his office.
Well, that’s it until next time you Hoopy Froods! I hope you have enjoyed the ‘International Towel Day’ news and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of this, it’s that some things are best left unanswered.
Don’t Panic and Please Remember your Towel!