Disclaimer: Not my Ford (sob), not my Arthur (wail), not even really my Dressing Gown (ehem), as I am certain Douglas must have known about their animate nature. Just carrying out investigations on their behalf.

Chapter One - Of Dressing Gowns

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of Dressing Gowns:

It is a well-known fact that in an infinitely large universe, nearly everything you can think of is grown, or lives, somewhere. In the case of dressing gowns, they are formed in pods growing regularly up the side of a thick central stem, like a sort of brassica on the moon of Gelhartny, just outside the Horse Head nebula. When these pods split, the small gowns, with their trailing sensory braid, fall to the floor and lie in the sunshine to dry out and swell. As they dry, not only do they grow in size, but the local conditions determine their adult patterning. Thus, a gown that hatches into full sunlight or total blackness will be a pale or dark shade of a single colour, while one born to dappled shade may develop a checked or striped pattern, or in the deepest regions of the forest, an opulent paisley. The braid colouration is governed by genetic factors, as is pocket placement, hoodage and cloth hanging-loop presence or absence.

Dressing gowns are usually gathered in the autumn, when they are fully developed, and may live for many years, even with neglect and disuse. They become very attached to their owners, for whom they have the greatest respect and most servile attitude, and give off strong telepathic waves to disillusion any prospective second-hand buyers.

Dressing gowns are highly tactile beings. They have no sense of sight, taste or smell (thankfully), but make up for this with quite astonishing powers of hearing and a limited sixth sense amounting to strong empathy or low-level mind reading. They are extremely sensitive and respond well to stimuli encountered by their owners. They can communicate easily with each other, though on a level that most sentient beings do not notice. The best translators are pyjamas, many of whom are dead long before they are ever worn.

For this reason, first-hand accounts of life as a dressing gown are rare, but this one was recorded through a pair of striped pyjamas recently picked up on an extremely dull day at a space port, and hung on a hook on the wall of a bedroom on the Heart of Gold, near to where a dressing gown lay.

'I have had an eventful past few months. I had, until recently, been used to a regular and uneventful existence. Every morning I would be pulled on by my owner, taken downstairs, wrapped comfortably round his still-warm body, and cosily sat on while he ate his breakfast, perhaps receiving a few drops of tea, a small splatter of egg-yolk or butter, which he would hastily brush off, tutting to himself in a most endearing way. Then back upstairs, where I could relax for the day while He went out, before, after his evening cup of tea, I was often called into service once more, to sit round him while he read or watched television or bemoaned the lack of company to his houseplants. Very occasionally we entertained together. I often had the sense that He was not entirely happy on these occasions, and I felt that I was allowed to remain in order to show the unexpected guest (always the same one), that my owner was not in the mood to entertain.

'Then, a short time ago, we had a sudden and peculiar break from our routine. I was put on as usual, first thing, but instead of our leisurely breakfast and a pleasant day on the peg, I was whisked outside into the open air and lain on, on my back in the mud. I do not mind the mud, I have no qualms about being a little stained, after all, it shows that one is well used and not neglected, however, after that, the day just got stranger. Within hours, we were off again, to another place I had never thought to enter: the local pub; this time in the company of that long-standing friend, the Unexpected Guest.

'I was surprised to hear from the friend that the planet Earth, on which I had been staying, was about to be destroyed. However, my owner outdid me in the surprise stakes and within minutes, having jumped around wailing at what I understood to be other humans, we were once again on our backs, this time in a hedgerow. I started to strike up a conversation with some teasels, who were attempting to ingratiate themselves into my pile, but before we had got past the introductions, my owner and I were whisked up to a spaceship by a matter transfer beam with our friend, and unfortunately, in our hasty departure, the teasels were left behind.

'After some extremely unpleasant time spent on the ship, which turned out to belong to Vogons, who did in fact subject us to a poetry reading that nearly brought me out in bobbles, we three were ejected forcibly into space, a place where I am fairly comfortable, but where I know full well many sentient beings do not survive for long. I was therefore glad, being worried for my owner, when we were picked up by another ship. This was a much more friendly and cosy ship, such as a dressing gown might feel at home in. At this point, I actually began to feel shamefully smug because, knowing my owner as I do, I knew he was unlikely to take me off while there were none of His other clothes around and while He was feeling so vulnerable. As there is nothing in life that gives me more pleasure than clinging snugly to His body, the prospect of uninterrupted periods of being on His person was heaven.

'And so we come to tonight, to where I am now. I am wrapped around my favourite owner, we have both had a wash, so He's smelling good and so am I, and, what is more, my pile is lovely and fluffy and there are no sharp crackly patches of dried sauce anywhere about me.

'I understand that we are in his bedroom on this spaceship. I would love to be able to tell you what that meant in terms of décor, tidiness and so on, but I can only tell you that there is a hook somewhere on one of the walls where he likes to hang me when he goes to bed, next to his towel; and there is also a chair that I sometimes use when he's in more of a hurry. This chair is smooth and curved, so that I very often end up on the floor – a thing that rarely happened at home, He is rather fastidious about things like that, or He was. Something has happened recently, which has meant me spending more and more time on the floor, and less and less time hanging neatly on my hook.

'I cannot say whether He has truly fallen in love. From what I hear, he has, but then, I only get to hear what he says, I don't get to see him making eyes, or sidling up to anyone, or any of those things. However, I would say, in general, when a man lies on his bed and moans someone's name while rubbing bobbles onto my sleeve-pile along the side of my conveniently placed left-side patch pocket, then has to rinse my hem in the sink; then he can be considered to be in love with that person.

'Of course, it is not these individual pursuits that leave me lying on the floor. No; after such an evening, I can expect to be hung neatly, by my slightly fraying cloth loop, on the hook. Tonight, I suspect, I shall be sleeping on the floor.'

A/N: I apologise if this makes you look askance at your own personal dressing gown. I assure you thatensuing chapters will only make things worse. Please do review (I regret that due to present normal probability levels, I cannot stop the inevitable, but we will all feel better for knowing we tried).