Professor Humperdink III

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30.7.08

To Utah


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Stop to see aunt Humperdink’s atomic laboratory. Frank, the manager, assures us that it is all perfectly safe. Within a few minutes, I notice that I can see straight through my glasses case. Juan, also, seems odder than usual, Frank’s hand appears bonier than normal and I can see where Juan broke Frank’s arm in an arm wrestling competition in Carson City. Feeling nauseous and starting to glow, with our teeth and hair falling out, we quickly thank Frank for the tour and run away. We calm ourselves down with a barrel of Glenfarclas Private Reserve, which Juan keeps for such occasions. Once decontaminated by the cleansing, restorative malt, dysteleologically behind schedule, and somewhat befuddled, we head for Utah as fast as we can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

29.7.08

Train driving


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On board aunt Humperdink’s travelling railway school, we pondered some of the train driving examination questions. A question on how to swap the wagons, that the wagon marked B ended up beside the lamppost marked C and the wagon marked D finished beside the lamppost marked A, caused us some puzzlement, especially as the bridge was too small to let the engine through. Juan suggested destroying the bridge or, if we could not do that, swap the lampposts. Another question involved laying track that so that each of the trains, marked A to E, could get to their respective stations, without crossing. Juan covered the paper with squiggles and pronounced that it could not be done. When I showed him that it could be done, easily, he sulked, then he questioned the validity of such theoretical tests, as, in his opinion, they have absolutely nothing to do with driving a train, saying this, we accelerate through a complicated set of points, blowing the whistle madly and hoping for the best
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

28.7.08

Glass fibre


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Visit aunt Humperdink’s glass fibre factory. Marija shows us some of the material that she uses for blankets. Juan asked if the blankets were itchy, Marija explained that the blankets aren’t used for beds; they’re for insulating refrigerators and electric ovens. Juan said he knew that, but continued to mutter dark warnings about papulovesicular dermatitis, pruritus and skin erosions. While spreading her skeins and teasing the fibre into the correct thickness, Marija tells Juan that, after few weeks of constant scratching, the skin hardens and workers become immune to the itching. Glass fibre workers rarely take long holidays, she says, for, after a few weeks, their skin has gone soft, and they have to endure the itching all over again. Juan comments that Marija seems to have soft skin. Marija says that it is the abrasive rubbing that happens when filaments and fibre particles are caught under the clothes that causes most of the itching. She is dressed, she explains, for our visit. To avoid dermatitis, she says, and to facilitate scratching, glass fibre workers usually work naked. Juan complains that he is very itchy and Marija takes him to her guest scratching room, where visitors and staff can scratch in private. Juan’s ridiculousness, typically, delays us once again, now, erythematally behind schedule, pouring whisky on our sores and rashes, itching and stinging and scratching like monkeys, we rush on, as fast as we possibly can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

27.7.08

Brake failure


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It is easy to find the reason the brakes failed, a bent brake crossbeam twisted the brake hanger, which distorted the brake block adjuster, unhinging the brake blocks. The brake blocks, unhinged, cracked the spring hangers, which buckled the crank relief valve, tearing the brake pull rods apart, which crumpled the coupling rod for the brake, this bent the brake crossbeam and the brakes failed. Sockdologerically behind schedule, we don’t have time to fix this so, disengaging the braking system, we carry on, as fast as we can. As, on a train with no brakes, we realise that our passengers might not feel completely safe, Juan distributes barrels of his Special Reserve, which he keeps for such occasions, this diverts their attention.
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Unable to stop or slow down, we let the coaches slip a mile or two before a station, letting the impetus of the coach carry it forward to the platform. The passengers expecting to alight at the first stations, occupying the rear coaches, with the passengers travelling furthest, remaining in the front coaches. At high speed, with no brakes, it is difficult to know when to release the coaches. Factors such as the weight of the load, gradients and speed can allow a coach to travel for many miles past the platform, or slow down and stop, long before it reaches the station. Bakulebe, and his colleagues in the Special Train Service, can slip carriages with such precision that they roll to a standstill directly beside the platform. Unfortunately, Juan and I can’t do that. Watching coaches slip away behind us, we know we are abandoning many befuddled, irate, passengers to be deposited in remote, dangerous places, far from any platform. However, as this is the same as travelling by rail in Britain, Juan says he can’t understand why some passengers are upset.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Railway School


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Stop off to visit aunt Humperdink’s Railway School, where students practice manoeuvres with little trains.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.7.08

To Nevada


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Deliver another carillon for uncle George’s annual performance. To celebrate, Juan opens barrels of his Special Reserve and George hands around great quantities of rich chocolate. As a chocolatier, uncle George has a great depth of knowledge. Of the carillon, he knows nothing. To hear George’s unreserved enthusiasm coupled with his ignorance of the instrument, augmented by Juan’s Special Reserve, magnified by the huge volume of the bells and accelerated by chocolate, is a terrible thing. However, as to hear a carillon played very badly is a rare experience, our ears ringing, we applaud wildly and shout our congratulations. Uncle George insists that we stay to hear his twelve-hour experimental concerto, an invitation we sorrowfully decline, explaining that, although we are sorry to leave the Golden State, we are biliously behind schedule. Promising to come back next year, when our hearing has recovered, we quickly obtain an aeroplane, and, somewhat befuddled, fly for Nevada as fast as we possibly can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

25.7.08

Film studio


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Whilst waiting for Juan, I wander around aunt Humperdink’s studio. I am fascinated to see that scenes, which appear so convincing when seen in the cinema, are entirely artificial. After a short time though, this artifice, which everyone here seems to consider so amazingly important, makes me feel quite uneasy. Needing to experience something genuinely fantastic, I head out to the Yosemite Valley, stand on Glacier Rock and contemplate, with relief, gratitude and awe, the wonderfully real and really wonderful world.
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Professor Humperdink's Diary

24.7.08

Hollywood


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Arrive in Hollywood cloddishly behind schedule; just have time to visit aunt Humperdink’s film studios. Although aunt, not being very interested in film, handed over the day-to-day management to her friends Carl Laemmie, Adolph Zukor and the brothers, Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner, the business seems to be doing very well. We are introduced to the actress Margaret Lockwood who explains that she is starring in a film she describes as a bodice-ripper. Juan is puzzled at this, failing to understand why a bodice should have to be ripped, rather than just removed in the normal fashion, Margaret takes Juan away to explain, and I don’t see him for a while.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

23.7.08

Californian oil


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Visiting aunt Humperdink’s Californian oil field which, in producing vast quantities of oil, has brought a great deal of useful economic growth to the area, as well as help make aunt Humperdink’s Californian businesses fabulously successful. It is very pleasant to catch up with our friends Jim, Bart and Frank, who have managed this oil field with such dedication and expertise and who, through their unswerving efforts, have, deservedly, become multi-millionaires. Whilst visiting, we are fortunate enough to witness an oil strike; we are amazed to see thousands of gallons of oil gushing into the air, to celebrate, Juan, rather stupidly, hands out Havana cigars and, despite the protestations of Jim, Bart, and Frank, insists on lighting them. The result is a catastrophic fire. This is typical of Juan and, in stopping to help put the fire out, we are, again, hopelessly delayed. Now, treacherously behind schedule, we rush on to Hollywood as fast as we possibly can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Chieh

Chieh - Regulations
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Professor Humperdink’s I Ching

To California


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1. Leptocircus Curious (2”) Assam. 2. Papilio Weisker (3.5) New Guinea. 3. Tenaris Catops (3.5”) New Guinea. 4. Hebomoia Celebensis (4.5) Celebes. 5. Ornithoptera Brookeana (7”) Borneo. 6. Callithea Hewitsoni (2.5”) Colombia. 7.Catagramma Pitheas (2.25”) Colombia. 8. Troides Alexandrae, male (8.5”) New Guinea. 9. Cethosia Myrma (4”) Celebes. 10. Ornithoptera Cassandra (6.5”) North Queensland. 11. Ornithoptera Paradisea (6”) New Guinea. 12. Terinos Clarissa (3.5”) New Guinea. 13. Delias Niepelti (2.25”) New Guinea.
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Donald MacTavish reports that our supply of whisky is dangerously low and that, of the lighter malts, we have nearly run out of Glenbury-Royal, Tobermory, Glenkinchie, Bladnoch and Dalwhinnie. Donald McTavish adds that our supplies of the weightier Auchroisk, Speyburn and Glencadam whiskies have been radically diminished by Juan’s massive consumption of these magisterial malts. This is alarming news and makes us worried and bad tempered, to the extent that when Juan, glancing at my sketches of some of the butterflies we have seen, points out that a male Troides Alexandrae can grow substantially larger than the eight and half inches indicated, I retort that when we last saw a Troides Alexandrae, in Obi, Juan sat on it and, therefore, I wasn’t interested in his opinion. This results in a fierce argument, which rapidly degenerates into a brawl. The two Donalds, concerned at the damage we are inflicting on each other, intervene by throwing us off the raft. Fortunately, we are only a dozen or so miles off the Californian coast. Swimming towards land, we remember that California is a land of fantastic scenery, wonderful wine and the most beautiful women in the world; this cheers us up considerably and, although Juan’s childish behavior has, once again, made us chaotically behind schedule, we look forward to having a wonderful time in the glorious Golden State.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

21.7.08

British Columbia


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Our little ship sinks off the Canadian Pacific coast, this is annoying as we have to head inland, collect a few of our logs, speedily build a raft and then, contabescentely behind schedule, continue down the coast. To pass the time, I whittle a theorbo and, to cheer everyone up, play a pavane by Fernando Carulli, the sound, however, is dull and depressing and makes everyone miserable. This is typical of the works of that sorry, deeply untalented composer, but, switching to some of our favourite Scottish melodies, such as: “When the Kye Come Hame”, “What’s a’ the Steer, Kimmer” and “When she Came Ben she Bobbit”, I find the instrument plays very brightly and everyone cheers up. To celebrate, we break out one of Juan’s barrels of Duff’s Defiance, that rarest and most wonderful of single malts so, with everyone once more in good spirits, singing, dancing, shouting and brawling, we head south as fast as we possibly can.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

19.7.08

Navigational errors


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Glancing at one of Donald MacTavishes drawings, I notice that the Dover-Calais poster shows the Forth Bridge and the local services poster shows world routes. Further inspection shows at least another twenty basic errors, I surmise from this that Donald has spent too long at sea, is possibly missing Scotland and, perhaps, as navigation requires attention to detail, should be allowed a holiday, to recuperate. Juan, looking at our other co-navigator’s sketches, one of a street, and another of a room, determines that Donald McTavish has also made many ridiculous errors.
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Realising from this that our navigators are not in a fit condition to perform their duties, which explains why we have been sailing in circles, we take over the navigation ourselves, let the two Donalds off further navigation duties and, instead, we put them in charge of our whisky store, a task for which, because of their extraordinary depth of knowledge and experience of single malt, they are highly qualified.
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Now, although we are ludicrously behind schedule, we are confident that we can navigate directly to Canada without further delay. To celebrate, we ask the two Donalds to provide us with sumptuous quantities of our best malt, and throw a wild party. This provides much needed fun for the crew, after such a long and occasionally difficult journey. Unfortunately, hopelessly befuddled, Juan and I then make a series of navigational errors and, massively delayed, we continue to sail in circles.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary