[Vl'hurg archive]

Speech by Capt. R'Paret'zk' proposing the motion "This house believes that there could be intelligent life on planet Earth"

Your unspeakable, gross, imperial flatulence. Admirals, captains, all my fellow Vl'hurgs. I rise before you today to speak on a matter staggering in its triviality. Recently, while monitoring short-wave electromagnetic communication emissions originating on this vile oxygen planet where we are so unfortunately stranded, we became aware of certain frequency patterns emanating from a source that seemed to call itself a "Terrywogan". These unclassified acoustic waves, consisting of random tonal noises with underlying rhythmic elements are almost, but not quite, completely dissimilar to last millennium's intergalactic hit, The Battle Hymn of the Vogons. The creatures responsible for these emissions appear to be the oxygen planet's ape-descended life forms, who call themselves the "Wallies". It was these frequency patterns emitted by the Terrywogan, fellow Vl'hurgs, that first made us suspect that the Earth might contain intelligent life, preposterous though this may seem. Further investigation was clearly needed, so we adjusted the controls of our Urinescopes to monitor higher frequencies, so that visual analysis was possible. Our first observation was of a bizarre mating ritual, which however bears some resemblance to the ancient Vl'hurgian copulation rites, practised by our ancestors before our current powers of telepathic orgasm were developed. The mating ritual seems to involve groups of nine wallies sitting in a powerful phallus, which they thrust forward at terrific speeds with the aid of eight tentacles, which protrude outwards along the length of the phallus. It is a homosexual ritual, as the wallies, encouraged by the panting and shouting of their "cox" (which seemed to be the term applied to the one wally who is not attached to a tentacle-a term which interestingly enough has sexual significance in their language), exert their energies to the utmost in an attempt to bring their phallus into contact with the phallus in front of them. Each phallus belongs to a different wally tribe, and can be distinguished by a characteristic brightly-coloured mating plumage of the wallies, and on the tentacles. The ritual, known among them as a "boat-race", seems to indicate some highly limited degree of intelligence, especially in the case of the most successful mating-ritual tribe, which emulates the great Vl'hurgian custom of masochism, by burning their phallus after the conclusion of the ceremony.

Seeking further confirmation of this strange discovery, we trained out Urinescopes on a different area, and were suddenly blinded by a panorama of gleaming whiteness, which upon further analysis proved to be some sort of religious ritual, performed by these oxygen breathers, though we are as yet uncertain as to its purpose. The ritual is apparently limited to wallies of the lowest social order, who are painted white, and forced to perform it for hours on end, while their betters sit and watch. This tedious ritual, which can last five days at a time at the holiest festivals (known as "Tests"), consists of some wallies waving long sticks fashioned from organic material, which causes other wallies around them to be seized by religious ecstasies, marked by strange contortions and indiscriminate running in all directions. We think it possible that there may be some spherical holy object being chased by these other white wallies, but our instruments were unable to detect it if this is so. Because it is inconceivable that there might be any sensible purpose to this ritual, it is clear that the wallies must possess at least some primitive intelligence: creatures relying only on their natural instincts would have been incapable of devising anything so utterly pointless.

For further evidence, we attempted spectroscopic examination of the atmosphere. No intelligent species, we considered, could possibly choose to live on such a foul-smelling planet as this one. What we have discovered, however, is that the wallies are gradually rectifying this, improving their air through the addition of such sweet-smelling substances as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, freon gas, and what I know is the Emperor's personal favourite, radioactive nuclear waste. Already one wally settlement known as "the city of the angels" has eliminated enough oxygen from its atmosphere and replaced it with more health-giving substances so that we Vl'hurgs can breathe there quite easily without the oxygen conversion apparatus we need elsewhere on this planet (and one presumes that the name of this settlement is a reference to the divine, angelic aroma they are striving to create). Thus the wallies have begun to create the atmospheric conditions necessary for them to evolve their present extremely primitive intelligence into a more advanced stage. Analysis indicates, in fact, that in about two billion Earth-years, they could rise to the intelligence level of the intestinal slime rats of Betelgeuse 14.

Finally we have the primitive cave paintings in this very room, a ghetto so unpleasant that it is frequented only by groups of wallies known as "postgrads", who we think are the social outcasts of their tribes (they are forced to perform a labour of up to seven years which consists of an entirely pointless assembling of uninteresting facts and ideas, and which is immediately forgotten once it is achieved-this can only be some kind of punishment for a crime committed against their tribe). Although these pictures (or "Picasso's" as the wallies call them), look like random scribblings, we have submitted them to tests, which have revealed a deep hidden message contained within one of them. Although this painting has no meaning whatever when viewed normally, the message becomes clear when the painting is seen backwards and upside-down through a slightly cracked prismic mirror. The deep message, now being analysed feverishly by teams of crack Vl'hurgian researchers, consists of the three mysterious Earth-tongue words, "I buried Paul".

Your flatulence, admirals, captains: there can be no doubt, outrageous as it may seem-these ape-descended wally bipeds must be considered a species of at least some primitive intelligence, to have produced such a message, rivalled for incomprehensibility only by Deep Thought's great answer to the question of the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything, 42. Fellow Vl'hurgs, the case is proven.