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Chapter Nineteen

Although it has been said that on Earth alone in our Galaxy is Krikkit (or cricket) treated as fit subject for a game, and that for this reason the Earth has been shunned, this does only apply to our Galaxy, and more specifically to our dimension. In some of the higher dimensions they feel they can more or less please themselves, and have been playing a peculiar game called Brockian Ultra-Cricket for whatever their transdimensional equivalent of billions of years is.

``Let's be blunt, it's a nasty game'' (says The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy) ``but then anyone who has been to any of the higher dimensions will know that they're a pretty nasty heathen lot up there who should just be smashed and done in, and would be, too, if anyone could work out a way of firing missiles at right-angles to reality.''

This is another example of the fact that The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy will employ anybody who wants to walk straight in off the street and get ripped off, especially if they happen to walk in off the street during the afternoon, when very few of the regular staff are there.

There is a fundamental point here.

The history of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of idealism, struggle, despair, passion, success, failure, and enormously long lunch-breaks.

The earliest origins of the Guide are now, along with most of its financial records, lost in the mists of time.

For other, and more curious theories about where they are lost, see below.

Most of the surviving stories, however, speak of a founding editor called Hurling Frootmig.

Hurling Frootmig, it is said, founded the Guide, established its fundamental principles of honesty and idealism, and went bust.

There followed many years of penury and heart-searching during which he consulted friends, sat in darkened rooms in illegal states of mind, thought about this and that, fooled about with weights, and then, after a chance encounter with the Holy Lunching Friars of Voondon (who claimed that just as lunch was at the centre of a man's temporal day, and man's temporal day could be seen as an analogy for his spiritual life, so Lunch should

(a) be seen as the centre of a man's spiritual life, and

(b) be held in jolly nice restaurants), he refounded the Guide, laid down its fundamental principles of honesty and idealism and where you could stuff them both, and led the Guide on to its first major commercial success.

He also started to develop and explore the role of the editorial lunch-break which was subsequently to play such a crucial part in the Guide's history, since it meant that most of the actual work got done by any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices on an afternoon and saw something worth doing.

Shortly after this, the Guide was taken over by Megadodo Publications of Ursa Minor Beta, thus putting the whole thing on a very sound financial footing, and allowing the fourth editor, Lig Lury Jr, to embark on lunch-breaks of such breathtaking scope that even the efforts of recent editors, who have started undertaking sponsored lunch-breaks for charity, seem like mere sandwiches in comparison.

In fact, Lig never formally resigned his editorship --- he merely left his office late one morning and has never since returned. Though well over a century has now passed, many members of the guide staff still retain the romantic notion that he has simply popped out for a ham croissant, and will yet return to put in a solid afternoon's work.

Strictly speaking, all editors since Lig Lury Jr have therefore been designated Acting Editors, and Lig's desk is still preserved the way he left it, with the addition of a small sign which says ``Lig Lury Jr, Editor, Missing, presumed Fed''.

Some very scurrilous and subversive sources hint at the idea that Lig actually perished in the Guide's first extraordinary experiments in alternative book-keeping. Very little is known of this, and less still said. Anyone who even notices, let alone calls attention to, the curious but utter coincidental and meaningless fact that every world on which the Guide has ever set up an accounting department has shortly afterwards perished in warfare or some natural disaster, is liable to get sued to smithereens.

It is an interesting though utterly unrelated fact that the two or three days prior to the demolition of the planet Earth to make way for a new hyperspace bypass saw a dramatic upsurge in the number of UFO sightings there, not only above Lords Cricket Ground in St. John's Wood, London, but also above Glastonbury in Somerset.

Glastonbury had long been associated with myths of ancient kings, witchcraft, ley-lines an wart curing, and had now been selected as the site for the new Hitch Hiker's Guide financial records office, and indeed, ten years' worth of financial records were transferred to a magic hill just outside the city mere hours before the Vogons arrived.

None of these facts, however strange or inexplicable, is as strange or inexplicable as the rules of the game of Brockian Ultra-Cricket, as played in the higher dimensions. A full set of rules is so massively complicated that the only time they were all bound together in a single volume, they underwent gravitational collapse and became a Black Hole.

A brief summary, however, is as follows:

Rule One: Grow at least three extra legs. You won't need them, but it keeps the crowds amused.

Rule Two: Find one good Brockian Ultra-Cricket player. Clone him off a few times. This saves an enormous amount of tedious selection and training.

Rule Three: Put your team and the opposing team in a large field and build a high wall round them.

The reason for this is that, though the game is a major spectator sport, the frustration experienced by the audience at not actually being able to see what's going on leads them to imagine that it's a lot more exciting than it really is. A crowd that has just watched a rather humdrum game experiences far less life-affirmation than a crowd that believes it has just missed the most dramatic event in sporting history.

Rule Four: Throw lots of assorted items of sporting equipment over the wall for the players. Anything will do --- cricket bats, basecube bats, tennis guns, skis, anything you can get a good swing with.

Rule Five: The players should now lay about themselves for all they are worth with whatever they find to hand. Whenever a player scores a ``hit'' on another player, he should immediately run away and apologize from a safe distance.

Apologies should be concise, sincere and, for maximum clarity and points, delivered through a megaphone.

Rule Six: The winning team shall be the first team that wins.

Curiously enough, the more the obsession with the game grows in the higher dimensions, the less it is actually played, since most of the competing teams are now in a state of permanent warfare with each other over the interpretation of these rules. This is all for the best, because in the long run a good solid war is less psychologically damaging than a protracted game of Brockian Ultra-Cricket.


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