The Biscuits of Tought.

26Jun06

Excerpt from “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish” by Douglas Adams


I‘ll tell you a story. A true story. You know sometimes people tell you stories that are supposed to be something that happened to their wife’s cousin’s best friend, but actually probably got made up somewhere along the line.

I had a train to catch. I arrived at the station. I was about twenty minutes early. I’d got the time of the train wrong.

So I bought a newspaper, the guardian usually, to do the crossword, and went to the buffet to get a cup of coffee. It was Rich Tea if you ask what type of it. I like them. Laden with these new possessions. And, I was also buying some biscuits.

I go and sit at a table. And don’t ask me what the table was like because this was some time ago and I can’t remember. It was probably round.

So let me give you the layout. Me sitting at the table. On my left, the newspaper. On my right, the cup of coffee. In the middle of the table, the packet of biscuits. Can you picture it?

What you don’t see, because I haven’t mentioned him yet, is the guy sitting at the table already. He is sitting there opposite me. What’s he like you ask? Perfectly ordinary. Briefcase. Business suit. He didn’t look as if he was to do anything weird.

And then he did this. He leaned across the table, picked up the packet of biscuits, tore it open, took one out, and….ate it.

Yes. He ate it.

What did I do then? Well, in the circumstances I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do. I was compelled…to ignore it.

Why you ask? Well, it’s not the sort of thing you are trained for, is it? I search my soul, and discovered that there was nothing anywhere in my upbringing experience, or even primal instincts to tell me how to react to someone who has quite simply, calmly, sitting right there in front of me, stolen one of my biscuits.

So what happened? I stared furiously at the crossword, couldn’t do a single clue, took a sip of coffee, it was too hot to drink, so there was nothing for it. I braced my self. I took a biscuit, trying very hard not to notice that…the package is already mysteriously open….

But I am fighting back, taking a tough line. I ate the biscuit. I ate very deliberatly and visibly, so that he would have no doubbt to what it was I was doing.When I eat a biscuit… It stays eaten.

Then he took another one.

Honestly, this is exactly what happened. He took another biscuit, he ate it. Clear as a daylight.

And the problem was, having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around. What do you say? “Excuse me…I couldn’t help noticing, er…”. Doesn’t work. No, I ignore it with, if anything, even more vigor than previously.

Stared at the crossword again, still could’t budge a bit of it, so showing some spirit of that Henry V did on St. Crispin’s Day…I went into the breach again. I took another biscuit. And for an instant our eyes met.

Our eyes met. In an instant. And we both looked away. But I am here to tell you that there was a little electricity in the air. There was little tension building up over the table.

We went through the whole packet like this. Him, me, him, me…The whole packet. Well, it was only eight biscuits. But it seemed like a life time of biscuits we were getting through at that point. Gladiators could hardly have had a tougher time.

So. when the empty packet was lying dead between us the man at last got up, having done his worst, and left. I heaved a sigh of relief of course.

As it happened my train was announced a moment or two later, so I finished my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper.

And underneath my news paper…were my biscuits.

Excerpt from “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish” by Douglas Adams with some adjustment for one sided storytelling. And don’t you tell me about plagiarism. I am an admirer of his work, just wanna share that mind-boggling experience reading Adams’. Then again, though Adams claimed the experience which inspire this particular part did happen to him, the story has been considered a common urban legend. The title is supposed as a pun from “The Salmon of Doubt”, another one of Adams work.

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