Professor Humperdink III

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28.1.08

Must, an irregular verb

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While doing serial back flips along Brighton beach,
Professor Humperdink started to screech.
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“Thinking that the rope will break,
The readers may worry and pray,
For they know that 'must' is an irregular verb,
A verb conjugated in an unusual way.
This could spoil their day.
Please reassure them, in other cases I can relate,
Such as ‘I must lose weight’,
‘Must’ is transitive verb, which generally means ‘don’t’.
The way I use this verb, it is not a ‘doing word’.
It simply means I possibly could, probably should,
But almost certainly won’t.”
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

27.1.08

Delayed again


Unbea
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Sahara, feeding Myrtle
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Juan, feeding Fred
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Delayed again
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We have to build more planes as Juan keeps crashing. We are criminally behind schedule. On this flight, Juan took his attention entirely off flying the aircraft and, instead, we browsed through aunt Humperdink’s photographs. Seeing Unbea, trying out Ashirbu’s new smoking mixture and Tele and Seena’s coral paste, and Sahara, feeding baby Myrtle, Lolita’s daughter, we were overcome with the need to return to Africa as quickly as possible. A few moments later, arguing over whether Fred, Juan’s baby rhinoceros, was eight weeks old or nine weeks old, Juan started waving his arms around and crashed. This irritating habit, again, severely delays us.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary


25.1.08

Out of track


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Bakulebe is a world-class engine driver and we have the world’s fastest train. Unfortunately, we run out of track near Ipswich. Chlorotically behind schedule, we have no choice but to leave the train. We carry on in one of Juan’s aircraft, a land seaplane he designed. Juan normally lands offshore, taxies onto the land, then travels by road, delivering his contraband whisky, concealed in the floats, directly to outlying villages that do not have a landing strip.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

23.1.08

Full steam ahead


Laying track
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Bakulebe's fast train
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We have idiotically wasted a great deal of time revisiting some of our old drinking establishments in London, and finding many new ones. Juan calls his old team together, we quickly lay track. Bakulebe, our ever-reliable engine driver, turns up in the world’s fastest train, which is ideal as we are grotesquely behind schedule. We head on at full steam, dancing, singing and drinking to the success of our new assignment.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

20.1.08

New Assignment


Lolita, Mageta, Leonga and Billy
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Maharene, waiting for Juan
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Mzi, with a new assignment
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Enthusiastic band
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Prince Humperdink
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Bakulebe, blowing the whistle
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Juan claims that lion’s mane headdresses are essential wear in Abyssinia, and collects the hairs that fall from Lolita, Mageta or Leonga’s manes when they molt or if some rubs off during a tussle with Billy, Juan's stuffed buffalo, that he occasionally lets them play with.
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Arrive in Dolo Odo in where we meet up with Maharene who has been waiting for Juan. She takes him away.
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Mzi, from headquarters, turns up with a message from London saying that we must return to England as quickly as possible, for a new assignment. Before we leave, I insist on donning Juan’s lion mane headdress, then, adopting the guise of a dignitary, pose for photographs and have a band play in my honour. This sort of behaviour, behind enemy lines, when is imperative that we remain anonymous and unnoticed, is a regrettable weakness that places us in unnecessary danger. The noise the band makes is loudly enthusiastic and abominable. We immediately attract the attention of the authorities and have to leave instantly.
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We arrive in London venomously behind schedule. As we hurry down the platform, Bakulebe blows the whistle to wish us luck on our new assignment. Although further delay is absolutely unacceptable, adopting the native fashion, we complain about the weather, decide that we need to consider the situation, and head for the nearest pub as fast as we possibly can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary







19.1.08

Locomotives and an angry hippopotamus

Dunrobin
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Bakulebe
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Juan explaining our time problem
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Juan, choosing a canoe
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Setting off
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Sunk
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Alternative transport
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Using our locomotives, Dunrobin, named by Juan to commemorate his quitting the pirate life, and Bakulebe, after our heroic engine driver, we arrive at the shore cravingly behind schedule. Juan explains to Ma-anna and her Khoikhoi family that we don’t have a moment to lose and that we must immediately set off by canoe. Unfortunately, before we have gone very far we are set upon by a hippopotamus. We simply can not afford to spend our time in this way so, sadly bidding farewell to our friends, we head on, using our only alternative means of transport, desperately hoping to reach Abyssinia by Sunday.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary






18.1.08

Locomotives and orchids

Jenny Lind

Invention

Hurricane Humperdink

Orchid hunt

1. Epidendrum vitelinum. 2. Epidendrum obrienianum. 3. Odontioda zenobia. 4. Oncidium papilio. 5. Odontoglossum crispum. 6. Cattleya grosii. 7. Sobralia lucasiana. 8. Sobralia holfordii. 9. Odontoglossum grande.
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Abjectly behind schedule, we design and build new and larger locomotives as quickly as we possibly can. Frustratingly, we are subject to another excruciating delay as aunt Humperdink insists that we collect some orchids for her new orchidarium in Paris. Together with Professor Ma-anna and her Khoikhoi family, we head into the jungle on an orchid hunt. Unfortunately, we are disturbed by several angry buffaloes.
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Bakulebe, our train driver, immediately climbs a tree and leaps down onto the back of the leading buffalo and, by violently twisting the ears of the animal, succeeds in subduing the poor creature. Its companions, seeing that their leader has been overpowered, wander away, leaving us to collect orchids in peace.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary




17.1.08

Locomotives and antelopes


North Star
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Bloomer
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The "Iron Humperdink"
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Locomotive delivery
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Wheel tapping
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Poku and Leché
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Lolita, unimpressed
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Needing ever more powerful engines to carry our increasing loads of whisky, people and animals, we hastily sketch our requirements and I take delivery of the locomotives, check them over and, insultingly behind schedule, send them off as fast as I possibly can. Juan says farewell to Poku and Leché, (on the left of the picture), who have cantered beside us for thousands of miles. Lolita, unimpressed by all this activity, sits and yawns.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary




15.1.08

Locomotives and a tired harte-beest

Cornwall
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Velocipede
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The “Iron Barrel”
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Professor Ma-anna, with gourds


Juan’s new steam distillation process produces a gallon of whisky for every ten miles travelled and I quickly sketch the stronger engines that we need, to carry the barrel.
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Our old friend, Professor Ma-anna, joined us for a few miles as, in the same situation as us, she is forebodingly behind schedule and has to travel as quickly as possible. When we dropped her off, Juan insisted that she take a basket of gourds, full of his new, steamed, whisky. This was extremely fortunate as, within a few miles, Ma-anna found her family, standing around Squiffy, Juan’s pet harte-beest, all deeply concerned. Squiffy has been travelling with Juan for a long time, walking beside the locomotive during the day, and sleeping with Juan and Lolita in the engine room during the night. This often surprises Juan’s girlfriends, who did not expect to be invited back to a sooty iron box in a steam engine, containing a wild Tzigani, a harte-beest and a big big cat.
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Our new engines are slightly faster and they don’t break down as often. As a result, Squiffy has been having difficulty keeping up, eventually collapsing with exhaustion. Ma-anna immediately poured gourds of whisky down Squiffy’s throat, this revives the poor creature, Ma-anna and her family return to the train, bringing a tottering, but healthy, Squiffy. Our new locomotive is big enough to carry Squiffy from this point on, as well as Lolita, who is also looking a little tired. We celebrate with Ma-anna and her family by drinking the gourds, filling the furnace with them as we empty them, thus discovering that Juan’s whisky is amazingly flammable, within a few minutes, we have the fire at full blast, the boiler steaming mightily, and the locomotive chugging along at approaching nine miles an hour.
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I play the steam trumpet as we enter the jungle. Lolita roars and Squiffy bleats with delight. Ma-anna and her Khoikhoi family sing and dance around the smokestack and Juan bangs his violin on the boiler, roaring out filthy pirate sea shanties, a rather lamentable weakness of his that has occasioned trouble, on more one occasion. Thus celebrating, we chuff ever deeper, into the mysterious interior.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary


14.1.08

Locomotives, fresh meat and a waterfall

The “Flying Humperdink
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The “Whisky Express
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Steam trumpet
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Fresh meat
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Waterfall
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Intensely behind schedule, we are subject to further maddening delays owing to our old locomotives being subject to continuous breakdowns. Our friends, the Batáu, were very excited at the boiled zebra meat and, upon questioning, they told us that they had been waging a long campaign against the Bakatla, Batlókua, Bahűkeng, Batán, Batlápi, Banóga, Bamosĕtla, Bakwain, Bamangwato and Bangwakese tribes, which they had variously subjugated, massacred or sold into slavery but that, owing to forever being at war, they had all but lost their traditional hunting skills and were forced to live entirely on roots.
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Juan, who spent many years living on roots, immediately offered to give them some of his grub and root recipes, which he claims help prevent the bad effects of an exclusively vegetable diet. Doctor Secha, chief of the Batáu, said that they occasionally did augment their diets with pyxicephalus adpersus and acrididae. Several members of the tribe quickly went and caught some specimens. We stoke up the fire, roasted the locusts on the hotplate and pounded them into small cakes. We boiled the matlametlo in the boiler. Juan always enjoys this noble esculent frog and said that it reminded him of Blancheflour’s delicious cooking. I did not, however, enjoy the locusts as we don’t have any honey and, on this matter, I agree with Livingstone, locusts and honey should always be eaten together as the laxative properties of the last correct the astringent qualities of the first.
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Bakulebe suggests that that we help our friends and points to the fact that our locomotive produces a lot of steam, and that the steam might be harnessed to catch some fresh meat. Juan has an idea and asks Doctor Secha to get his people to build a large hole, meanwhile using a brass pipe and some valves I bash together a trumpet. Juan stokes the fire until the flames are roaring then, creaking, boiling, bubbling and steaming we trundle along the track, slowly gathering pace. The animals in the area are alarmed at our approach and slowly back away.
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Juan throws more wood on the fire and we reach a breathtaking eight miles an hour. Just as we reach maximum velocity, Doctor Secha waves, to tell us the pit is ready. I immediately thrust the trumpet over the steam outlet on the boiler. It makes a huge sound, the wild animals turn and run in fear. I find that by manipulating the valves I can play a fair rendition of a study by Fernando Carulli, but against the rumbling of the engine, the clattering of the wheels and the screaming, roaring and pounding of wild animals, the piece, although extraordinarily loud, sounds unremarkable. I put this down to the shabby, forgettable works produced by that ignoramus of a composer so, as, guided by the Batáu, the terrified creatures plunge into the pit; I quickly switch to playing a Bagatelle, by Robert Schumann, which sounds bright, sharp and very jolly.
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We chug on to Lake Ngami, delighted that our friends, finally, have some fresh, decent food. To celebrate, using Juan’s whisky, we drink toasts to Doctor Secha and all the Batáu tribe, until we are reeling. The locomotive breaks down again, Bakulebe starts fixing it and Juan staggers off to vomit in privacy. I grab a piece of paper and some paints, go for a short walk, and sketch a very pretty waterfall, which I find in the vicinity.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary
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P.S. An example of Blancheflour’s cooking.





12.1.08

Locomotives and fast food

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Keg Express, design no. 1
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Keg Express, design no. 2
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"Keg Express"
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Fast food
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Bakulebe firing at random
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Juan and I both start to panic when we realise that carrying a keg of whisky will slow us down too much. I quickly sketch some steam driven vehicles that might carry the keg and, using old bits of scrap iron and a rusty boiler, we build an engine as fast as we can. We lay tracks, upon which it can travel freely; and aunt Humperdink persuades more prosperous nations to donate their outmoded engines. Lachrymosely behind schedule, we are horribly hindered by having to travel on these devilishly slow locomotives.
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During one of our many breakdowns, our friends from the Batáu tribe join us for dinner. This creates a slightly difficult situation as our engine driver, Bakulebe, is the last surviving member of the Bakuena tribe, recently exterminated by the Batáu tribe. Unfortunately, Bakulebe’s mother belonged to the Batlápi clan, who were also wiped out by the Batáu people. To make matters more delicate, Bakulebe’s father came from the Banóga peoples, also eradicated by the Batáu. Bakulebe looks distinctly uneasy. While we are rustling up a quick dinner, Bakulebe starts shooting at people at random. Juan is directly in the firing line, fortunately, Lolita, Juan’s pet lion, knocks him down and protects him. Luckily, no one is hurt, I calm Bakulebe down with a sharp blow to the head and we return to the locomotive, where we help Bakulebe to recover by forcing Juan’s whisky down his throat, then we share the whisky around and boil up a fast, tasty, stripy meal.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary





A Recipe for Disaster

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Ingredients:

1 President.

1 Bunch of Crooks.

A general public.

A victim state or two.

1 situation.

Some Oil.

Method

The general public should have been left in the dark for several months, with manure periodically poured on them.

Take the president, and remove all traces of any brain. Put him to one side, take the bunch of crooks, and use them to fleece the public. Then blend the crooks to a smooth paste with the president, and leave to simmer.

Take the situation and inflame it with the oil and some fanaticism.

Skewer the victim states and roast over an intense flame.

Mix all the ingredients, put them in a sealed pot, and heat until everything explodes.

Tip: You can also make the British form of this recipe, which requires the addition of a toady. Yum!

Time. Probably at least fifty years.
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From the Ropkind Scharf Cook Book.

Birds, Butterflies, Moths and a Pipistrelle


Flying creatures, following the ship
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1. Redshank. 2. Cicada. 3. Common tern. 4. Scamandra polychrome. 5. Troides paradiseus. 6. Wasp. 7. Goldfinch. 8. Papilio Ulysses. 9. Tsetse-fly. 10. Humming-bird hawk moth. 11. Clouded yellow butterfly. 12. Kestrel. 13. Widgeon. 14. Six-spotted burnet-moth. 15. Pipistrelle.

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Molka
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Sunk, by Molka
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Aunt Humperdink's submersible studio
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Flabbergastingly behind schedule, infuriatingly, birds, butterflies and moths, attracted by Juan’s scented whisky, are, again, delaying us. I quickly sketch as few as they land on our ship and we sink deeper and deeper into the water. We shout ourselves hoarse trying to scare the creatures away and, time and again, we have to moisten our mouths and throats with whisky. When Molka arrives, all the other creatures flee, which affords us some respite. Unfortunately, after fluttering around for a while, Molka cannot resist the smell of Juan’s whisky and lands on the ship. Under her massive weight we immediately sink. Fortunately, Ropkind happened to be passing, testing out Aunt Humperdink’s new submersible studio. Excited, we rescue the whisky and, to celebrate Ropkind’s latest publication, we drink ourselves into hysterics.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary
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P.S. Ropkind’s latest publication