Following news here that an Englishman in the Black Country had claimed to have discovered the meaning of life in a dictionary, a claim now disproved by the American Society of Simpleology but believed by most Americans as ABC News said it was true, a professor of psychology and philosophy and all that other weird deep stuff came forward reluctantly to admit that he actually had the real answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
'It's true', Professor Marvin P'Aranoid-Android said wearily, 'I don't know why you didn't ask me before. Here I am in Tunbridge Wells, brain the size of a planet, and all I do all day long is open and close the door in my local Tesco minimarket. It was the first 300,000 times that I did that that bored me, now it's so depressing I think I'll go and shoot myself. Oh, I can't, or this article won't finish.'
Professor P'Aranoid-Android is a lecturer at the Adams Institute of Zarkology and has written five books, books with some controversial ideas. In one of them he put forward the theory that the Earth will be demolished to make way for a hypergalactic bypass, and in another he said that time travel is not only possible and has already happened but that it is also getting increasingly ridiculous.
'People have started going back to the 1950s and becoming Elvis Presley before he did', Marvin droned on miserably, 'or to the 1960s and bringing out all The Beatles' songs in one week, long before they could write any of them. I didn't think human beings could do anything more depressing than they already have done, but I was wrong. Would you like me to open this electronic door for you? I can do it in 32,657 different ways, each more depressing than the last one.'
We tried to get the professor to tell us what the answer to life, the universe and everything was, but we had to wait two hours until he took his tea break to question him again. 'Oh that', he said, walking over to us awkwardly as if he had a limp, 'well, it's unbelievably simple. It's so simple I can hardly be bothered to tell you what it is. In fact it's so simple I won't lower myself to waste my time even thinking about it', and he instantly fell asleep in his chair.
Waiting patiently as he snored loudly in what sounded like a put-on manner we managed to wake him up just before his break ended. 'OK, OK, OK!', he snapped angrily, 'you really want me to tell you the answer? The answer that the human race has been searching for for thousands of years, and that has eluded the greatest minds in history?',
and 'Yes!' we shouted at him in our desperation to find out what it was. 'OK, then. The answer you've all been looking for, the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is -', and he paused suddenly, and all the shop's staff and customers had by now gathered round P'Aranoid-Android to hear what it was.
'Get on with it!', and 'What is it?' people began shouting at him, and so he stood up and said 'You're not going to like it', causing more anger and shouts for him to reveal what it was. 'You're really not going to like it', and people began pulling their hair out in frustration so he decided to tell them the answer. 'The answer to life, the universe and everything is -', and dramatic orchestral music began playing loudly over the supermarket's tannoy, '42.'
'What!', people gasped, and others shouted 'Is that it?', and 'After thousands of years of research and debate by millions of people all you can come up with is 42?' came from one particularly irate free-lance journalist. 'Well', Marvin protested, 'you never said it had to be complicated, did you? I'm sorry if the answer's got you down - or rather I'm not sorry at all, now you know how depressed I feel about everything', and moodily he limped away to go back to his door duties.
The journalist said to his stunningly attractive common law wife, who had dragged him along to Tesco's to help her switch the stickers on reduced items to save lots of money on their purchases, 'It's not really the answer people should be looking for, it's the question.'
And quickly changing a packet of Quorn ham from 75p to 15p, she replied 'Like what's 6 times 9? Ha ha ha', and soon the pair were outside and hitching a lift on a passing Vogon battleship.
An hour later, after Professor P'Aranoid-Android had been fired from both his position at the Adams Institute and at Tesco's for 'being a nutter', the Earth was indeed demolished to make way for a hypergalactic bypass.