The excerpt below came to mind while reading Jack the Obstructionist over at Section 15.
Ford stared at Arthur, who began to think that perhaps he did
want to go to the Horse and Groom after all.
"But what about my house ...?" he asked plaintively.
Ford looked across to Mr Prosser, and suddenly a wicked thought
"He wants to knock your house down?"
"Yes, he wants to build ..."
"And he can't because you're lying in front of the bulldozers?"
"Yes, and ..."
"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement," said Ford. "Excuse
me!" he shouted.
Mr Prosser (who was arguing with a spokesman for the bulldozer
drivers about whether or not Arthur Dent constituted a mental
health hazard, and how much they should get paid if he did)
looked around. He was surprised and slightly alarmed to find that
Arthur had company.
"Yes? Hello?" he called. "Has Mr Dent come to his senses yet?"
"Can we for the moment," called Ford, "assume that he hasn't?"
"Well?" sighed Mr Prosser.
"And can we also assume," said Ford, "that he's going to be
staying here all day?"
"So all your men are going to be standing around all day doing
"Could be, could be ..."
"Well, if you're resigned to doing that anyway, you don't
actually need him to lie here all the time do you?"
"You don't," said Ford patiently, "actually need him here."
Mr Prosser thought about this.
"Well no, not as such...", he said, "not exactly need ..."
Prosser was worried. He thought that one of them wasn't making a
lot of sense.
Ford said, "So if you would just like to take it as read that
he's actually here, then he and I could slip off down to the pub
for half an hour. How does that sound?"
Mr Prosser thought it sounded perfectly potty.
"That sounds perfectly reasonable," he said in a reassuring tone
of voice, wondering who he was trying to reassure.
"And if you want to pop off for a quick one yourself later on,"
said Ford, "we can always cover up for you in return."
"Thank you very much," said Mr Prosser who no longer knew how to
play this at all, "thank you very much, yes, that's very kind
..." He frowned, then smiled, then tried to do both at once,
failed, grasped hold of his fur hat and rolled it fitfully round
the top of his head. He could only assume that he had just won.
"So," continued Ford Prefect, "if you would just like to come
over here and lie down ..."
"What?" said Mr Prosser.
"Ah, I'm sorry," said Ford, "perhaps I hadn't made myself fully
clear. Somebody's got to lie in front of the bulldozers haven't
they? Or there won't be anything to stop them driving into Mr
Dent's house will there?"
"What?" said Mr Prosser again.
"It's very simple," said Ford, "my client, Mr Dent, says that he
will stop lying here in the mud on the sole condition that you
come and take over from him."
"What are you talking about?" said Arthur, but Ford nudged him
with his shoe to be quiet.
"You want me," said Mr Prosser, spelling out this new thought to
himself, "to come and lie there ..."
"In front of the bulldozer?"
"Instead of Mr Dent."
"In the mud."
"In, as you say it, the mud."
As soon as Mr Prosser realized that he was substantially the
loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his
shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it. He sighed.
"In return for which you will take Mr Dent with you down to the
"That's it," said Ford. "That's it exactly."
Mr Prosser took a few nervous steps forward and stopped.
"Promise," said Ford. He turned to Arthur.
"Come on," he said to him, "get up and let the man lie down."
Arthur stood up, feeling as if he was in a dream.
For the uninitiated, the above is an excerpt from Chapter One of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy