Professor Humperdink III

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31.7.07

Accordian



Ngakpa, on accordian

30.7.07

Denmark


Dagfinn feeding his pigs


Vibeke and the children


Caja and Caren


Hele


Helje


The new pump in Amager Island


Playing dice with Christian X
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Arrived in Jutland and spent the afternoon helping Dagfinn feed his pigs skimmed milk, as Aunt Humperdink suggested, this gives them a particularly delicate flavour. The practice has spread throughout Denmark resulting in a huge demand for Danish bacon. After work I met up with his lovely wife Vibeke and their children, Ulrike, Trine, Tilde, Solvej, Rike, Pernille, Mia, Birthe and baby Peder. Cousin Caja and her sister Caren asked me to take their photograph as they wanted Aunt Humperdink to see their latest hat design, then Dafinn's sister-in-law, Hele, showed me her horn-shaped headdress, with veil and tiara, which, strictly speaking, is part of her bridal attire, but, with Aunt Humperdink's encouragement, it is now being mass produced for the world hat market.
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Before leaving Denmark for Wales, I made a quick visit to Amager Island where I spent some time with Helje, working in the grinding room of his porcelain factory. Helje told me that his models, after the classical and mythological statuary style of the distinguished Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen, had been selling well but that simple cups and plates were even more popular and, with Aunt Humperdink's help, they were being exported all over the world. In the yard, Helje's children, Anelisse, Grette, Hele, Iver and Margarete demonstrated their new pump.
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Hearing I was in the area, my old mate Christian X turned up, (he calls himself that as, normally, he is too sozzled to remember his full name). Most people find Christian to be an authoritive, pompous, idiot but that is because he is shy and nervous and tends to overcompensate. Away from royal circles he is decent chap and, I know from the time we spent together, dirty, violent and drunk in the slums of Copenhagen, he is an amicable fellow at heart. We caught up with each other's news, over a game of dice, I won, but Christian, typically, didn't have any money so offered me one of his countries instead, however, as it was Iceland, I told him he could keep it.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

29.7.07

Sweden


Husförhör in Tibble


Marna, weaving


Dalecarlia


Nea, in Sunday dress


Nels, in uniform


Oscar, listening to the Strad
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Arrived in Tibble in time for the weekly husförhör, a ridiculous tradition where the local parson questions the villagers on the catechism. After the husförhör I visited Marna, busy weaving. The advent of machinery is threatening to drive out all picturesqueness of attire, fortunately, under Aunt Humperdink's direction, a reaction in favour of home industries has set in, home weaving and dyeing have been revived and Marna is doing a tremendous trade in Swedish national costumes.
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After leaving Tibble, I spent a little time helping out in the fields of Dalecarlia, then on to Rattviki where my cousin, Nea, had me photograph her in the traditional Sunday costume of a green jacket and a skirt with horizontal stripes of red, green and white, and very fetching it is too. Nea's brother, Nels, turned up with Oscar, my old friend from the Boer war, Nels was wearing his uniform, of the King's bodyguard, (which preserves memories of Charles IX (1550-1611)). At the moment Nels is travelling with Oscar, who, apart from being a distinguished writer, and king, is also a gifted musician. Oscar was interested in hearing how the Stradivarius sounds, now I've put a new neck on it, I played a few tunes for him. Oscar told me that several Russian assassins were on my tail so I have had to cut my stay short. I always enjoy my time in Sweden, it has been lovely to catch up with my friends and I am sorry to have to leave. Tomorrow, Denmark.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

27.7.07

Iceland


On leave


Washing


Lilja


Steinunn

Coffee
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We brought Neddy over to Iceland on Juan's whaling ship, where we left him (far right of the photograph) grazing amongst boulders, lava dust and the treacherous bogs and marshes, with his old friends from the Horse Brigade, on leave from India.
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Steinunn and Lilja, two of my collegues from the Arctic expedition, invited us to do some washing at the volcanic springs and, afterwards, we used the boiling water for some coffee. Lilja showed off her exquisite skaut of lawn, with its gold band, it is normally reserved for festivals, but Lilja wanted Aunt Humperdink to see it, I obliged by taking a photograph. Steinunn showed off her beautifully embroidered bodice and tasselled cap. It has been lovely to catch up with Steinunn and Lilja but I will be glad to leave this appalling country. Tomorrow, Tibble
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Spitzbergen









Caught up with Juan, drying whale flesh at Green Harbour. A place notable for the total absence of anything green, and for the unbearable stench. After drinking ourselves into delirium, we climbed a few jagged peaks, to clear our heads, and arrived, fit again, at Gala's saeters, in Ny Alesund; rough, single roomed huts, such as the one before these Jölster maids, Mari, Maria and Marie, are working. We met some of Gala's sisters Kristianna, Kristin, Kristina, and Kristine. They seem a happy bunch, considering that they live in a deeply unpleasant place. Tomorrow, Iceland.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

26.7.07

Bergen and Hardanger


Bergen


Maren and Haakon


The Norwegian Alpine Corps kept us pinned down in the mountains for longer than we would have liked, but our old friends Maren and Haakon were getting married and they had asked me to play the fiddle at their wedding, to charm away evil spirits. This meant getting into Bergen to buy some steel strings for my Strad, to make it louder. Bergen is awful. After buying some strings we left for Hardanger. The wedding was a lot of fun although, unfortunately, the steel fiddle strings, being of a much higher tension than the gut strings, broke the instrument in two, as it had been made at the height of Stradivarius's 'Golden Period' and has lasted all these years, this is rather a shame; however, it lasted long enough for me bash out a few merry tunes for Maren and Harek, before the neck broke off, so can't complain. Tomorrow, Spitzbergan.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

23.7.07

Haldana's Christening


Haldana's christening



Neddy's stolkjaerre





After the warmth and hospitality of the South Sea islands, Norway is an inhospitable hell-hole. The voyage, on board the Discovery, passed in a blur, as Juan produced large caskets of whisky and rum. We spent a lot of time fighting off ghastly creatures of the deep, a purposeless exercise as they were purely figments of our sodden imaginations. We crashed into Norway and I marched inland. Mountains and blizzards cleared my head and I arrived in time for Haldana's Christening. Something I had promised Kulu that I would do. The priest broke the ice in the font, with the edge of his prayer book, and Gunda pushed baby Haldana's head into the freezing water. Haldana promptly screamed the place down. There has been some dispute between the women regarding who wore the white skaut, and the parentage of the child. It is a Norwegian thing, somehow involving Kulu, I don't want to get involved. Everybody seems very cross.
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Immediately after the service I escaped on a stolkjaerre with Gala and Lena. At some point I was to pick up a rute-biler, but I knew Neddy from Chile, now fully recovered from his fall. He took us into the safety of the snow covered mountains. The security services were alert to our presence and had the railway station staked out so, on alighting, we joined a group of tourists and slid away unnoticed, deeper into this miserable country. Tomorrow, Bergen.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

20.7.07

Icebergs


Discovery
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Kulu stayed with Juan on the whaling ship, meaning to drop off in the Solomon Islands, on the way back to Africa, and marry Tiresa. I joined the Discovery and we're heading out from Amery ice shelf, surrounded by some 2,000 icebergs, the largest of which being 150 miles long and 11 miles wide - a giant menace, since the submerged part of an iceberg is about eight times as large as the visible portion. However, we are making good speed and, if we manage to avoid collisions, and sinking, we expect to reach Norway early next week.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Roast whale



Rowing south, a little short of food, fortunately we bumped into Juan, on board a whaling ship, collecting ambergris for his perfume business in Argentina. I helped out where I could and Kulu, being an expert harpooner, was able to add to the catch by a fair percentage. As well as ambergris, whale oil is used for making the explosive known as nitro-glycerine, as well as margarine, so, producing up to ten thousand barrels per week, we know we are assisting with the war effort. Roast whale tastes not unlike salt beef, in Liverpool, where it sells at prices varying from 3d to 6d per pound, it is very popular; fresh from the sea, served with stale bread and weevils, it is a wonderful dish.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

19.7.07

South Pacific


The view to starboard
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We have both been in awe at the peace and beauty of the South Sea islands and we are indebted to the kindly, generous, islanders who have helped us every step of the way.

Now we row into the deep Pacific, to be with the sea alone.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

Hung over




A grey morning, hellishly hung over, we lie on the edge of the cliffs, looking into the distance. I paint the sea as the camera was smashed during a fight. We are sorry to leave our friends behind but Kulu has to return to Wendou Nody and I am expected in Norway on Tuesday.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

New Hebrides



Landed in the New Hebrides where Graham Campbell and his friend Professor Kalisi Ngoga, on a field trip from Oxford, made us very welcome. Graham is a fine milliner and insisted that we have our photograph taken with Kulu and I wearing his latest "fluffy look" hat, for Aunt Humperdink's collection. Graham, amused that, after years of isolation, he now had three professors to talk to, poured an endless supply of rum down our necks and we spent the day babbling nonsense, shouting, fighting, crying and being violently sick.

Nauru Island









Landed on Nauru Island where we waited at the new train station for the first train. Using some coral paste, Kulu filled in the time by writing a warning sign in five languages, including Chinese, who number a third of the population; who may never have seen a train before. Arriving at the central plateau we try out a little phosphate mining.

After moving several tons of phosphate we were invited to a nearby village where the women, very kindly, invited us to stay for a meal and produced baked fish, coconuts, paw-paw blossoms, cowrie and conch shellfish and pandanus leaves. They used the coconut oil to make their bodies gleam and the paw-paw blossoms as wreathes. They put on the cowrie and conch shells for girdles and the pandanus leaves for their ridis, or skirts, they hung the fish around their necks. After the "Dance of the Fish" we ate these ornaments and very tasty they were. Back to sea, next stop, the New Hebrides.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

New Ireland



Stopped off in New Ireland just long enough to join in with some spear dancing, we were invited to stay for dinner but, as New Ireland is also known as Cannibal Island, we expressed our gratitude, explained that we were in something of a hurry and beat our way back into the Pacific, where the current seems to be sweeping us towards Nauru.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Ocean Island


Felix
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In order to avoid being crushed by a billion tons of water we have had to surf a tidal wave for nine hours, which is annoying as we are, again, delayed. We called in to Ocean Island where Felix Carvajal lives, Kulu's old running mate, he is now a sergeant in the police force, and looks very smart in his uniform. Kulu and Felix last raced together in the marathon in St Louis when Felix all but lost interest and Kulu was disqualified for setting a dog on Len Tau who, otherwise, was certain to win. This ridiculous behavior was caused by Kulu and Felix being under the influence of some of the excellent port they had consumed the evening before the race, which, on top of vast amounts of beer, whisky, brandy and strychnine sulfate they consumed on a daily basis, made them incapable. It was very nice to see Felix but, having to make up for lost time, we stop just long enough to drink ourselves stupid, then it's back to sea, waving goodbye and promising to call again soon.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Dehydration




We have been rowing for a long time without anything to drink. Dehydration is setting in. Kulu is complaining that his lips have cracked and, I can see from my paintings, I am becoming deranged. In the New Hebrides, Graham Campbell, our old comrade from the activity in Khorassan, keeps a very fine supply of rum. However, thousands of miles from land, we have to settle for the rain-water we have collected in the hats we have been carrying for Aunt Humperdink. We have a plentiful supply, both of hats and water, but we resolve to row harder in order to reach land and get a proper drink as soon as possible.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

18.7.07

To the New Hebrides



Heading for the New Hebrides, we have been blown off course by several hundred miles, which is a nuisance. We are taking turns at the oars. While Kulu rows, using the juices of berries I have collected, together with the coral paste Tele and Seena gave to me, I prepared some dye for our hair and skin, for the coming phase of our journey, I tested it out on some wood by painting a picture of our surroundings. The South Seas are wonderful to row and, despite the massive rollers, and taking the possibility of further hurricanes into account, we feel sure that, if we keep hard at it, we will arrive within two or three weeks.

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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Solomon Islands


Afato and Tainafi


Tiresa's house


Tiresa


Seena and Tele
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Arrived in the Solomon Islands, Afato and Tainafi showed us the hats they had made for Aunt Humperdink's hat company. Traditionally they wear these grass hats to signify that they are not old enough to marry. Girls are not supposed to flirt with them, but, as Aunt Humperdink pointed out during her visit, a few days ago, this doesn't work, in fact it has the opposite effect; the hats are selling very well and the industry has made their village very wealthy. After lunch we helped build a house for Afato's elder sister, Tiresa. Tiresa introduced herself to Kulu, telling him that she was worth at least twenty pigs. Brides cost from one to twenty pigs according to attractions and usefulness and Kulu immediately entered negotiations. I asked Kulu if he didn't have enough wives already, but he had obviously fallen for Tiresa, who is very attractive, and that was that.

Leaving Kulu and Tiresa to haggle, I went off to get some coral lime from Tele and her young sister, Seena. We would need some of the paste made from the coral, for bleaching our skin and hair, as we would soon be going back undercover. Tele gave me her necklace, made of dogs teeth, and made me promise to pass it on to Aunt Humperdink, for her collection, which I was happy to do. Back in the village, Kulu and Tiresa have settled on a price but, unfortunately, we have to press on, they agree to marry the next time Kulu visits. We paddle on, grateful to our friends, and wishing we could stay a little longer. Tomorrow, the New Hebrides.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Samoa


Iloai


Tao



Lovely to land in Samoa and catch up with Iloai. Her son, Tao, gave Kulu a piglet, a very fine present, and very tasty. After lunch, Sililo, Iloai's husband, invited us to a kava ceremony, to welcome us to his village. This was an privilege and an honour and we were delighted to accept. Sililo poured the oblation and spoke for five hours, persuading us, through immaculate oration, genealogical knowledge, mastery of Samoan folk-lore, detailed quotations from his historical research amongst the great libraries of the world, and personal charisma, that he, Sililo, should be the person to give the welcoming speech. During this time we drank cup after cup of kava, served by the beautiful Samoan girls of the village. Various other men then spoke, at length and depth, regarding their own suitability for making the welcoming speech and claiming the privilege of so doing. This continued for fifteen or sixteen hours with nothing being decided. We would have liked to have stayed for another day or two, to hear the matter resolved, but, with time pressing, we have to leave our friends, and the beautiful Samoa, and row on, to the Solomon Islands.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

17.7.07

Fiji


Iferemi and Kele



Fish and long pork




Stoking



Fire-walking



Kava



Farewell dance
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Landed in Fiji, our old comrades from the South Pole trip, Iferemi and Kele, met us on the beach. We explained that three hurricanes, mountainous seas, constant shark attacks and a persistent problem with a giant squid had slowed us down a little, and that we could only stay for one night. Maleli turned up, bringing fish and long pork, for a quick feast, which was very welcome and tasty. After eating, we helped stoke the fire and joined in with the fire-walking, then we spent the night on the beach, drinking ourselves senseless on kava. In the morning we dance the farewell dance, very grateful to our friends for, as always, being so welcoming, and sorry to have to leave so soon. Next stop Samoa.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary