"See what a piece of eggshell I have found you."

In Douglas Adams’ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, there is an atypical romantic interlude involving Arthur Dent and newfound sweetheart Fenchurch learning to fly.

Things are getting hot and heavy, and then she whispers in Arthur’s ear “See what a piece of eggshell I have found you.”


Is this a genuine Britishism? Is it a joke that just goes over my head? It seems kind of romantic, I guess, if whispered in my ear by a suitable Fenchurch, but kind of odd.

Something else I find odd is that in researching this (ie, Googling “see piece eggshell”), I found over twenty sites where the entire book is available to read on line or download as a PDF.

Now, this is a somewhat popular book by a very popular writer, so I have a hard time figuring out how these sites avoid lawyerly attention.

I mean, if a somewhat popular album by a very popular band were made widely available online, at static addresses as opposed to P2P and the like, those sites would be shut down pretty damn quick.

Seems strange.

Hmm, seems I’ve hijacked my own OP. Eggshell.

I had the impression that she’d gotten the eggshell from a bird’s nest above, which meant that she had, indeed, learned to fly at that moment.

That’s exactly how I understood it.

Still a deeply weird line, though.

You’re jumping the gun. They don’t get to the hot & heavy part until the next chapter. At this point, Arthur is teaching Fenchurch how to fly. The secret to flying is to fall to the ground but get distracted right before you hit. So Arthur is flying, and Fenchurch is freaked out because she can’t fly. But she stands on his hands. Then Arthur lets go while she’s distracted by the bird’s nest, so distracted that she forgets to fall. The line isn’t Fenchurch in the throes of passion, but rather an illustration of how distracted she was – that she was flying and the only thing that she was paying attention to was the eggshell. Which, of course, is what you have to do if you’re going to fly.


Aha, I think you guys are right. Adams only mentions once that Fenchurch sees something that might be a bird’s nest, then goes off into an extended riff about Arthur witnessing a bike theft. That provides his reason to forget to hit the ground, and by that time Fenchurch has been distracted by the eggshell she must have seen in the bird’s nest.

Quite a nifty bit. I’ve always loved that sequence and was disappointed when, if I recall correctly, Adams later disavowed it as ‘adolescent’. But maybe that was when he was in one of his bitter stages (or on the other hand, maybe I’m just emotionally adolescent :))

I meant to quote the passage in question (should’ve done so in the OP):

And that’s the end of that chapter.

Hoops, Arthur didn’t need the bike theft to distract him – when he jumped out the window he was so afraid of hitting the ground, that was enough to distract him from doing so. (According to the Hitchhikers’ books, the more you fly, the easier it becomes to achieve the necessary distraction.) He just wanted the thief not to look up because then the thief would have caused a scene and 1) Fenchurch would have been brought back to reality – and gravity, and 2) Arthur therefore wouldn’t have gotten laid.


I’ve read the series at least a dozen times, looking to see if I find new connotations, meanings, inside jokes, and just because it’s some of the best satire ever written.

I was perplexed by this one for some time as well, but I am comfortable with the conclusion that it’s simply an example of the the expression “whispering sweet nothings in your ear”. Until I’ve heard a better interpretation, that is how I am going to read it.
He makes it abundantly clear that this was said into his ear. The whisper is implied, allowing the readers’ imaginations to stay engaged to fill in the details of the scene.

I’ve always loved that chapter. Hope to use that one when I find my own Fenchurch.:slight_smile: