Professor Humperdink III

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31.8.07

Belgium


Bruges


Ypres


Binche
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We rush through Belgium, stopping only to join parades. Because of the high consumption of chocolate, and constant imbibing of top quality beer, the Belgiums, happy and excited, constantly engage in celebratory festivals.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

30.8.07

Avoiding Belgium




Notwithstanding the lure of Belgium beer, and the obvious attractions of their wonderful chocolate, remarkable lace, amazing hats and beautiful women, we were both reluctant to head for Belgium. To delay our arrival and, as a much needed diversion, we struck south, until we passed into pleasant seas where we whiled away the time shark fishing. Juan, being a fast swimmer, was excellent bait and who does not enjoy diving into a clear, warm and safe tropical ocean?
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.8.07

St. Helena










We were meant to travel directly to Belgium from Switzerland but, bored mindless by northern Europe, we took a short diversion to St. Helena. Juan will be bullfighting when we eventually reach Spain and, complaining about being out of condition, spent the day in training by running up and down the seven hundred steps on ladder hill. We dropped by to see Lucy and her four children at Napoleon’s house. On the way back we stopped off briefly at Ascension Island to photograph the vast numbers of “wide-awakes,” or sooty terns, which turned out to be entirely uninteresting.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

25.8.07

Mira


Mira, on mandolin
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International Toy Orchestra: The Professor's Selection

Igor



Igor on balailaika
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International toy orchestra: The Professor's Selection

20.8.07

Chuckles



Chuckles, woodwind
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International Toy Orchestra: The Professor's Selection

19.8.07

Switzerland


Margrit


Billy and Aunt Humperdink


Ueli and Orel


Juan's churchwarden
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We can only stay in Switzerland for a very short time as we are due in Bruges tomorrow. In the Bernese Oberland, Margrit showed us her latest hat design, which Aunt Humperdink has modified, by giving it a rounded top, for sales to the Quaker community and for which, unmodified, she has found an excellent market amongst the flat-headed Ucayali tribe of the Amazon.
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We found Aunt Humperdink and Billy in the Saas valley in Canton Valais, demonstrating the Shetland kessay which, with it's cunning carrying-strap system, is far more efficient than the locally made baskets. Knowing that Juan enjoys tobacco, she gave Juan a large Swiss churchwarden pipe. Before leaving for Belgium we just have time to catch up with Ueli and Orel in La Gruyère, in Canton Fribourg, busy making their latest batch of cheese which, under Aunt Humperdink's management, has now achieved international recognition and made Orel and Ueli fabulously wealthy. Saying goodbye to our friends we head into the hills, stopping only for Juan to try out his enormous new pipe. Tomorrow, Belgium.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

18.8.07

Hungary






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Juan purchased Gazsi, a flatulent horse, from a Magyar herdsman from the Hortobágy district and we are heading north across Alföld, the great plain of eastern Hungary. We made Mezökövesd in time for Borbala's wedding. As Juan accidentally shot her mother and father in the recent troubles he feels honour bound to give her the presents traditionally passed to the bride by her parents, that is to say, three mattresses, three bed covers, one eiderdown, five embroidered sheets, eighteen pillows, thirty shirts, twenty-seven blouses, eighteen skirts, four petticoats, twenty-nine scarves, twelve kerchiefs, sixteen aprons and one dress for baking bread. Borbala was very grateful but told Juan that he could keep the dress for baking bread as she had no intention of baking bread. She asked me to photograph her as she thinks her hat would be of interest to Aunt Humperdink, for the international market.
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We call in to see my old friend Lujza and her young son, Almos. Lujza is a member of the Matyó tribe who have many charming customs, a Matyó boy may not marry outside his own street; to show affection for one's fiancée or wife is a disgrace. For a year after marriage a bride wears a floral coronet, and when a baby comes she nurses it on a huge pillow. Almos is holding the hat that Lujza originally designed for Aunt Humperdink and which has found much favour amongst the ladies of Chelsea. We can't, unfortunately, stay very long as we are being hunted by the secret police. Tomorrow, Switzerland.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

17.8.07

Austria


Aunt Humperdink inspecting grapes


Artisan's ceremony


Juan juggling with hoops
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We are expected in Miskole tomorrow but find time to join Aunt Humperdink in Austria where she is touring her Klostemeuburger, Vöslauer, Müdlinger and Donauperle vineyards. The wine produced is of very low quality, but she exports it, very successfully, to North America, where there are very few connoisseurs. We joined the artisan's ceremonial procession and, afterwards, Juan demonstrated his new juggling routine. The Austrian people need entertainment as they are famously grim and miserable because of the lamentable quality of their arts, crafts and wine - we look forward to leaving.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

16.8.07

Ruthenia


Aunt Humperdink


Anezka


Vanda


Ctirad
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Arrived in Ruthenia. Met up with Aunt Humperdink, inspecting recent hat designs, here modelled by Anezka and Vanda. Visited our friend Ctirad in his glass factory where, under Aunt Humperdink's direction, his well-known Jablonec ware is proving extremely popular. We are behind schedule as sailing to Ruthenia proved more difficult than we thought.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

15.8.07

Flower bed


Bed for flowers

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Professor Humperdink's Designs

Anti-social bench


Bench for the unsocial.
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Professor Humperdink's Designs

13.8.07

To Czechoslovakia


Fluffy



Petra, being cunning


Fluffy, scared of Petra


Petra, apple eater
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On board Juan's ship. We have had a terrible time in ridding the vessel of rats and mice, particularly Petra, a clever and greedy marauder with a taste for cheese and apples. Although the ship's cat, Fluffy, is vicious and has an evil temper, she is terrified of rodents and Petra's reign remains unchallenged.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

12.8.07

Leaving Germany


Juan


Flinging
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Juan looks dreadful. We have been here too long, and have consumed too much cheap, bad whisky. He claims to have become a typical Teutonic peasant and he is thinking of changing his name to Adolf. I remind him that we are due in Chechoslovakia on Tuesday, to meet Aunt Humperdink. To celebrate leaving we link arms and grab some likely looking ladies for some celebratory flinging. Bueckeberian women are particularly fun, flung, as they are flexible, warm and clinging.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Buekeberg


Reception committee


East Prussian Dance


Students
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Arrived in Buekeberg, where I was given a very nice reception, then joined Juan and Zacherle's family to try out the latest East Prussian dance. After dancing, we joined in with some community singing with some young students, all very jolly until Juan started singing Hava Nagila, when the atmosphere became a little tense.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

11.8.07

Danzig


Juan and Aunt Mariel


Zacherle


Frog-Land
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Aunt Mariel gave Juan an elaborately carved meerschaum and introduced him to her young neighbor, Zacherle, a gorgeous Schaumberg costume designer. Juan and Zacherle immediately eloped. I wait for them in Frosch-Land, the vast, stinking, frog-infested swamp at the heart of Nogat valley.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

10.8.07

Germany


Café


Der Meistertrunk


Stag-beetle championship
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Arrived in Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, a beautiful old medieval town in Middle Franconia. Found a café and drank a great deal of beer. German beer, commonly called lager, is very refreshing but contains little alcohol, fortunately, Juan had with him several bottles of whisky. We joined in with the town pageant and stumbled around performing Der Meistertrunk.
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Arrived in Munich in time to enter Winston into the international stag-beetle championships. Winston, a relatively unknown British stag-beetle who we had secretly trained in Connemara, was pitted against a well known Austrian beetle from Braunau am Inn, with a formidable record. Winston, to our delight, tore his opponent to shreds.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

Holland


Klara and Juan


Hand-weaving


Tea-party
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Took the last opportunity to sail to Marken. Having been an island for 700 years, when the Zuyder Zee is drained, Marken will become again what it was formerly, an inland town, so many of the younger folk are taking up farming again. Juan recommended some vegetables to Klara, for the new farm, whilst I demonstrated Shetland's hand-weaving technique. Godelieve, Saskia and Marijn invited us to join their tea-party.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

9.8.07

To Holland


Flitter


Fang


The Squeak Sisters

Pugsley
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It is Juan's birthday. We celebrate by drinking a lot of whisky. I gave Juan a bat troupe, forgotting that Juan, after being trapped in a cave for three months, has an aversion to bats. He ran around the ship, screaming that the bats were attacking again. This, however, is an alcohol induced delusion for, as long as they have enough mealy-worms, Flitter, Fang, the Squeak Sisters and Pugsley, are happy and peaceful.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

8.8.07

Work and play in England


Busy street


Coal mining


Tractor and oxen


Godfrey


Horn fighting


Soccer
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After the busy streets it was refreshing to get away to the country. After a spot of mining and farming we met up with Juan's old mentor, Godfrey, now retired as vice-chancellor of Cambridge to become the local town-crier. We travelled together to Abbots Bromley where Godfrey asked us to test some horns used for the local dance as, being a thousand years old, they are showing signs of wear. After several hours of dancing and fighting we judged them to be in good condition and estimated that they would last for at least another generation. Owing to several more attempts on our lives we deem it prudent to leave for Holland but just have time to take part in a local football match, unfortunately neither Juan or myself were aware that the rules preclude overt physical violence against opposing team members and we were both sent off within a few minutes.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary