Professor Humperdink III

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30.9.08

Coal mining

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Working with our friends in aunt Humperdink’s Newcastle coal mine.  It is a lot fun and very good exercise.  When aunt took over the colliery, concerned that the miners were living in straightened circumstances owing to low wages and sub-standard housing, she built a small castle for their accommodation and, with her profit sharing scheme in place, which gives everyone an equal share of the income, (except for aunt Humperdink herself who, as she considers her work to be far easier than actually digging coal, refuses to take more than an apprentice’s wages), all the miners are now fabulously wealthy and live in a style appropriate to their skills and hard work.


At the end of our shift Juan breaks open a barrel of Linkwood, the miners, much to Juan’s surprise, insist that, although they agree that the malt is excellent, it doesn’t come close to Brown Ale, a speciality of Newcastle.  We spend some time trying out the Newcastle Brown Ale, comparing it with a selection of fine single malts and, after a few days, we find that we are dreadfully ill.  As this is a sign of a decent beverage, whether it be rare single malt or the brown muck the miners drink, we acknowledge that, given large quantities of any brew, the differences between the specific types of drink are not of any great moment.  Now, tholingly behind schedule, we head south in befuddled, disorderly, struggling haste.

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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.9.08

Eared owls and other birds

1.  Brown or tawny owl.  2. Hen Harrier.  3.  Red grouse.  4.  Yellow hammer.  5.  Roseate tern.  6.  Spotted flycatcher.  7.  Wheatear.  8.  Golden eagle.  9.  Sand Martin.  10.  Dartford Warbler.  11.  Blue-headed wagtail.  12.  Goosander.  13.  Tufted duck.  14. Bittern.


1.  Common kite.  2.  Kentish plover.  3. Curlew.  4. Blackbird.  5. Pied flycatcher.  6.  Hoopoe.  7.  Ring ousel.  8.  Little tern.  9.  Redshank.  10.  Short-eared owl.  11.  Shag  12.  Grasshopper warbler.  13. Great skua.  14.  Stock dove.  15.  Greenshank.  16. Shoveller.


1.  Chaffinch.  2.  Goldfinch.  3.  Great tit.  4. Grey wagtail.  5.  Wren.  6. Magpie.  7.  Robin.  8.  Green woodpecker  9.  Bullfinch.  10.  Kingfisher.  11.  Nuthatch.  12.  House sparrow.  13.  Jay.  14. Greenfinch.


1. Guillemot.  2. Marsh warbler.  3. Black-throated diver.  4.  Coal tit.  5.  Long-eared owl.  6. Quail.  7. Linnet.  8. Willow warbler.  9.  Pochard.  10.  Golden crested wren.  11.  Skylark.  12.  Snipe  13.  Lesser whitethroat.  14. Oyster catcher.  15.  Stonechat.  16.  Storm petrel.



Gallus Džugi
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Looking at my sketches, Juan scoffs at my owls, saying I’ve just drawn the same owl three times, with variously sized ears.  When I point out that owls are nocturnal and you can’t do a good sketch of a bird you can’t see and that his chicken sketch proves his own powers of observation leave a lot to be desired, he informs me that the chickens are Gallus Džugi, bred by his grandfather to swim the Someşul Mic River, their only escape from brown bears, lynxes, wolves and vampires.


Professor Humperdink's Diary

24.9.08

Hadrian's Wall


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To celebrate arriving at Hadrian's Wall, we find the nearest caches of Juan’s Special Reserve.  With only two or three bottles hidden under every three thousandth stone, they take a long time to find, as we have to dismantle the wall to find the first cache.  Finding the second cache is also difficult as we lose count of the stones and then have to knock large sections of the wall down. The third cache is almost impossible to find, especially as, in knocking one section of the wall down, Juan creates a domino effect and the collapsing section pulls down the section on either side, which drags down more of the structure, and the entire wall collapses in both directions for as far as the eye can see.  This is typical of Juan’s stupidity.  Rescuing the whisky from the rubble and rebuilding miles of wall means that, once again, we are mafflingly delayed.  Now, befuddled and nocuously behind schedule, we stumble on, bouncing off the wall now and then, to assist navigation.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

23.9.08

To Scarborough

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Although we have had a lot of fun, thinking about some of the people and their pets or, in some instances, a confusion of people and pets, which we’ve met over the last few days, we decide that, although Northumberland is very beautiful, we never, ever, want to see the place again.  Now, realising that Neddy must have gone on to Scarborough, we head for North Yorkshire as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

22.9.08

Leaving Butteryhaugh

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We leave Butteryhaugh, feeling dreadful after an unusually wild party.  The Northumberland countryside is enchanting and the local wildlife is fascinating but, diabolically delayed by Juan’s craziness, we don’t have time to stop and admire it and, fiendishly behind schedule, we stagger on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

20.9.08

Dancing in Butteryhaugh


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Although they are somewhat eccentric, the people of Butteryhaugh, and their pets, certainly know how to party.  Juan became over-excited and set his bagpipes alight again, then someone gave him a goat mask and, leaping up on to a table, he ripped out the flaming, screeching, tenor drones and, waving them around, encouraged everyone to dance.  This was very successful and we dance for hours. 

Professor Humperdink's Diary

19.9.08

Butteryhaugh


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Butteryhaugh is damnably odd.
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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

17.9.08

Leaving Butterhaugh


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After an evening in the Goat and Two Moons, I feel evilly sick and demonically bad tempered, and even Juan looks worse than usual.  Overcoming our inclination to sit, twitching, snarling and vomiting bile, desperate to catch up with Neddy and devilishly behind schedule, we make tracks as fast as we possibly can.  I can’t help but comment to Juan that his tracks are somewhat prehensile, which would be fitting, given Juan’s grasping nature, he observes that the tracks I am leaving are definitely those of a baboon, as this is true I can’t think of a decent retort, but, privately, resolve never to return to Butterhaugh and avoid the Goat and Two Moons like the plague.  Now, necronomically delayed and pustulantly behind schedule, squinting against the morning sun and moaning into the Northumberland wind, we totter on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

To Butteryhaugh

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Spend an interesting evening in The Goat and Two Moons, the barman and some of the locals advise us not to continue directly south, as that will take us to Butteryhaugh, the next village along, which, they tell us, is a strange, sinister, place, best avoided by travellers.  Considering that our new friends, Butterhaughins all, seem unusually strange themselves, Juan and I wonder just how peculiar the Butteryhaughins can be.  We thank everyone for their advice but explain that we are trying to catch up with Neddy who, as Butterhaugh does not have a donkey sanctuary, will have carried on to Butteryhaugh, and, as Neddy has the whisky and we are slobbishly behind schedule, we have no choice but to head for Butteryhaugh as fast as we possibly can. 


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Butterhaugh


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Arrive in Butterhaugh desperate for a drink; according to my old friend, Ted Crowley, the best pub in Butterhaugh is the Goat and Two Moons.  Guessing that the traditional sign above the pub door indicates the atmosphere of the place, and to make a good impression, we blow up our bagpipes and enter the pub playing Whisky, you’re the Divil.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

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Whisky, you're the Divil

To Butterhaugh


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After his holiday, Neddy is in fine fettle and he trots on ahead while we stumble along behind, trying to catch up.  Fortunately, a barrel of Glenburgie falls from the cart, which keeps dehydration at bay.  It also an excellent application for the injuries sustained in the Cheeky Monkey, not least of which being the hundreds of shot-gun pellets which have to be dug out, the result of Juan upsetting Morag, the stunningly beautiful, but dangerously violent landlady who, when upset, fires her twelve-bore at random customers.  

I was going through my notes for my annual Cambridge lecture, when Jock Black, brawling with Jamie McMonagle, knocked over my table, tipping my books into the open fire.  Juan, with unusual presence of mind, dived to rescue the six hundred year old ‘awärifu-l-ma’ârif but, having caught it, he crashed on the ground in front of the fire, which set his new bagpipes alight, the bags, full of Juan’s prime seasoning, expanded rapidly, and loudly, and then exploded, throwing pieces of burning bagpipe everywhere.  I remind Juan that this is the second time this week he has set fire to his bagpipes and ask him if this is the kind of behaviour expected from an officer of the Black Watch.  Juan gave a pithy reply and swung at me with the book, Morag appeared, fired her twelve-bore a few times, to calm us down, whistled up the McDonald brothers from the kitchen, who came out bearing saucepans of boiling water which they threw around until the fires were out and everyone was badly scalded.  Morag squirted everyone down with soda, to cool us down and scattered whisky dregs and cigarette ash, to cover the smell of burning flesh.  I went back to my notes, everyone else carried on brawling but Juan, very stupidly, asked Morag if she was wearing anything under her kilt, she attacked, Juan defended himself with the sacred book but Morag kicked it out of his hands, sending it flying across the room to fall, and sink, into the spittoon. 

As this is Juan’s fault, I leave it to him to retrieve the sacred book, but Morag, pulling him by the hair and screaming that they were annoying the customers, dragged him upstairs to continue the fight in private.  The following morning, the spittoon had gone crusty and Juan refused to rescue the book a second time.  As having to leave the book submerged in phlegm seems disrespectful, we consider asking  Sheikh Shahåbu-Din bin Dåara Shikuh-‘Abdul-i-Jami,  Jamie McMonagle, who changed his name and became a Sufi after drinking some of Juan’s Special Reserve and spinning for twelve hours, to sanctify the spittoon in some way, but Jamie is unconscious, in a congealed puddle of whisky and blood so, after pinning a note to his bagpipes, telling him that the priceless sacred text is in the spittoon, we leave quietly.

After running all day, we find ourselves dangerously low on Glenburgie, befuddled, bogsnufflingly behind schedule and unable to catch up to Neddy.  Our only hope is that there is a donkey sanctuary in Butterhaugh, in which case Neddy will stop.  While running, I design a closed spittoon, an object to be spat at, rather than in.  This would both facilitate cleaning and decrease the likelihood of losing ancient manuscripts.

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Professor Humperdink’s Diary

16.9.08

Special Operations

Antinous
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Clytie
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Demeter
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Hermes
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Mausolus
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Xanthian
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Absurdly delayed by Juan’s asinine behaviour, we arrive at our Scottish headquarters macaronicly behind schedule.  Aunt Humperdink tells us that her old friend, Hugh Dalton, wants us to set up a training facility in Africa for his new Special Operations Executive.  Stopping only to spend a few days in the Cheeky Monkey, from which we emerge in a terrible condition, we drop off the variously limbless and headless statues we have been dragging along with us, hitch Neddy up to a cartload of single malt and, singing and shouting, staggering and brawling, head south, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

12.9.08

Shell collecting

Jamie
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Judge MacDonald
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My shells
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Torpedo shell
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Common shells
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Visit Jamie, in his wig shop, just finishing a wig for Judge MacDonald, the lead tenor in the Hanging Judges, the famous a cappella group.  Glancing at my sketches of shells, he tells me that he, too, collects shells and invites us on a shell-collecting trip.  We have a lot of fun and collect a rare torpedo shell and any amount of common shells. 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Cadzow Forest

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1.  Meat-fly (Musca lardaria).  2.  Ox-eyed astata (Astata boőps).  3. Drone-fly Eristalis tenax).  4.  Fiery-starred syrphus (Syrphus pyrastri).  5.  Cow-dung fly (Scatophaga scybalaria).  6.  Pale bishop’s mitre (Asopus luridus).  7.  Crane-fly (Tipula longicornis).  8.  Trogus ichneumon-fly (Trogus atropo).  9.  Fiery ruby-tailed fly (Chrysis ignite).  10. Girdled tenthredo (Tenthredo zonatus).  11.  House-fly (Musca domestica).  12. Croesus saw-fly (Croesus septentrionalis).  13. Solid ichneumon-fly (Ichneumon crassorius). 14.  Turnip saw-fly (Athalia spinarum).  15.  Horse-fly (Hippobosca equina).  16. Broad tachina (Tachina grossa).  17.  Field mellinus (Mellinus arvensis).  18.  Feathered volucella (Volucella plumata).  19.  Giant-tailed wasp (Sirex gigas).  20. Tawny digger (Pompilus fuscus) 21.  Great gadfly or Cleg (Tabanus bovinus).  22. Sand cerceris (Cerceris arenaria).  23.  Norwegian saw-fly (Sirex juvencus).  24.  Scarlet hopper (Triphora sanguinolenta).  25.  Hairy dasypoda bee (Dasypoda hirtipes).  26.  Stone humble-bee (Bombus lapidarius) 27.  Fly-bug (Reduvius personatus).  28.  Orange coloured saw-fly (Climbex lutea).  29.  Garden saw-fly ((Lydia hortensis).  30.  Four-spot crabro (Crabro quadrimaculatus).  31.  Apathus bee (Apathus vestalis).  32.  Hive bee (Apis mellifica).  33.  Solitary ant (Mutila Europoea).  34.  German hornet-fly (Asilus Germanicus).  35.  Hairy-bodied saw-fly (Trichiosoma lucorum).  36.  Hornet (Vespa crabro).  37.  Tree-wasp (Vespa aboria).  38. Wood-ant (Formica rufa).  39.  Rose saw-fly (Hylotoma rosa).  40.  Water-boatman (Corixa Geoffroyi).  41.  Eared hopped (Centrotus corutus).  42.  Scarlet bug (Pyrrhocoris apterus).  43.  Ichneumon migratory (Spilocryptus migrator).  44.  Common was (Vespa vulgaria).  45.  Rhyssa ichneumon-fly (Rhyssa persuasoria).  46.  Water-scorpion (Nepa cineria).  47.  Great hornet-fly (Asilus crabroniformis).

Crash in Cadzow Forest where aunt Humperdink’s wild white cattle roam.  To celebrate being back in Lanarkshire, Juan opens a barrel of Coatbridge Old Reserve, which he keeps for such occasions.  We make the rest of the way on foot, singing traditional Lanarkshire songs and dancing traditional Lanarkshire dances.  As we only know one traditional Lanarkshire dance, and one traditional Lanarkshire song, which, puzzlingly, is about elephants, playing on a spider’s web, and requires a dance that emulates an increasing amount of elephants, swaying on spider’s web, we have no choice but to repeat it again and again, which makes our progress through the forest a staggeringly slow affair.  In between verses, I sketch some of the insects that live here, (although I suspect that the Sirex juvencus and the Asilus Germanicus arrived in Juan’s beard).

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Elephant song