Professor Humperdink III

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30.11.08

Leaving town

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Come across Cyril on the street, he tells me that, since Neddy brought him here, he has been making a very good living as a musician and that everyone seems to particularly enjoy Arthur Wood’s maypole dances, particularly the one that goes:  ‘toot-te, toot-te, toot-te toot; toot-te, toot-te toot toot’, so much so, he says, they gather around every evening to hear him play it. Although I know that many people find the tune to be catchy, I think it’s very irritating and, hearing a lot of the townsfolk mindlessly whistling and humming ‘tum-te, tum-te, tum-te, tum; tum-te, tum-te tum tum’, I find Neddy and leave town as fast as I possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Leaving the desert


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Arriving at the first town we have seen for some time. It is always nice to return to civilization and, after a long desert trek, we are, obviously, desperate for wine, women and song and look forward to having a lot of fun.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

29.11.08

Across the desert


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Travelling across the desert is normally a lot of fun, however, on this occasion, because I unwisely shared out some of Juan’s Special Reserve, we are in a terrible condition.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Leaving Benji

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After passing through a township that has seen better days, we stop to watch some elephants bathing.  Seeing their painted faces, I am reminded that, before I get to Africa, I must return to the Solomon Islands to get some more of Tele and Seena’s coral lime, for Unbea. I also notice that that Benji is looking sad and I realise that he is missing the company of elephants and that taking him to the Solomons would remove him from his own kind for some considerable time. Fortunately, Hiragana, Hiragaz’s sister, turns up and, seeing my predicament, immediately adopts the youngster. Benji could not hope for a better guardian so, very happy with this result, I bid them farewell, join a passing camel train and head across the desert as fast as I possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


Unbea

27.11.08

Benji


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Before leaving, I consider buying Benji, a baby elephant, for, as everyone knows, travelling with a baby elephant is always a lot of fun. 


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.11.08

Tigers

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Run across George’s shooting party, looking excessively proud of themselves, having bagged another tiger.  As the authorities, concerned for George’s safety, previously cleared the area of dangerous tigers, replacing them with old, sick tigers, which they sedate and leave in George’s path, I wonder how George and his yellow-bellied lackeys would compare to their ancestors, if they came across a healthy tiger.  I, lacking any sense of pride regarding remaining uneaten, would run away as fast as possible. Nonetheless, I rather hope that George and his lickspittles do encounter a vigorous tiger and, if it can stomach such lily-livered fare, I trust that the tiger will eat them.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


George

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Meet up with some of our Indian agents to tell them about the world situation.  Sudha loses interest and starts to dance so I start dancing as well, then, after distributing some of Juan’s Special Reserve; we all dance until we collapse.  Heading out of town after the meeting,  I come across George and his bunch of flunkies, taking a break from killing tigers. I can tell by the way George says ‘God!  It’s that maniac again’ that he is not happy to see me.  This is because George has become such a pompous twit that, whenever I meet him, I always insist on asking after Helle Cristina, his lovely daughter, and Mary Elizabeth, his beautiful wife: and loudly reminding him of his behaviour when we served together on H.M.S. Bacchante.  As the existence of Helle and Mary is an embarrassing state secret, and the horrifying details of George’s behaviour in Fiji, Yokohama and Shanghai, not to mention his sordid activities in Bermuda, Jamaica, Trinidad and Monte Video, would bring the monarchy to its knees, everyone looks uncomfortable.  I decide to lighten the atmosphere by reciting some humorous verse.  As George is meant to be a true Englishman and does not appreciate being reminded in public that he comes from the Saxe-Coburg family; on this occasion, I decide not to recite German verse also, to be truthful, I can’t think of any German humorous verse.  Fortunately, I remember some of the stuff my old friend, Charles Godfrey Leland, used to spout, to relax himself in Paris, while we were manning the barricades. Normally, Charles spoke in Shelta and my German is lamentable but, out of respect for Georges Teutonic affiliations, sipping Juan’s Special Reserve, I march around in circles, goose-stepping and saluting and singing Hans Breitmann’s Barty:

 

“HANS BREITMANN gife a barty;

Dey had biano-blayin',

I felled in lofe mit a Merican frau,

Her name vas Madilda Yane.

She hat haar as prown ash a pretzel,

Her eyes vas himmel-plue,

Und vhen dey looket indo mine,

Dey shplit mine heart in dwo.

 

Hans Breitmann gife a barty,

I vent dere you'll pe pound;

I valtzet mit Matilda Yane,

Und vent shpinnen' round und round.

De pootiest Fraulein in de house,

She vayed 'pout dwo hoondred pound,

Und efery dime she gife a shoomp

She make de vindows sound.

 

Hans Breitmann gife a barty,

I dells you it cost him dear;

Dey rolled in more ash sefen kecks

Of foost-rate lager beer.

Und vhenefer dey knocks de shpicket in

De deutschers gifes a cheer;

I dinks dot so vine a barty

Nefer coom to a het dis year.

 

Hans Breitmann gife a barty;

Dere all vas Souse and Brouse,

Vhen de sooper comed in, de gompany

Did make demselfs to house;

Dey ate das Brot and Gensy broost,

De Bratwurst and Braten vine,

Und vash der Abendessen down

Mit four parrels of Neckarwein.

 

Hans Breitmann gife a barty;

Ve all cot troonk ash bigs.

I poot mine mout' to a parrel of beer,

Und emptied it oop mit a schwigs;

Und den I gissed Madilda Yane,

Und she shlog me on de kop,

Und de gompany vighted mit daple-lecks

Dill de coonshtable made oos shtop.

 

Hans Breitmann gife a barty --

Vhere ish dot barty now?

Vhere ish de lofely golden cloud

Dot float on de moundain's prow?

Vhere ish de himmelstrahlende stern --

De shtar of de shpirit's light?

All goned afay mit de lager beer --

Afay in de ewigkeit.”

 

With this, I crash into, and fall on top of the table then, trying to stand up again, become violently entangled with the tablecloth. Sitting amongst the rubble, in the few awkward moments that follow, feeling that I might not have hit exactly the right note, I crawl away quietly and join aunt Humperdink in watching Hiragaz, the Royal Elephant who, because of his refusal to budge, is being dragged across country on his bum.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


24.11.08

The Maharaja of Patiala

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Bump into Bhupindra, the Maharaja of Patiala, he tells me his troops are disheartened after a difficult battle. I try to cheer them up by telling them that their great sacrifice is helping making Bhupindra extraordinarily wealthy and that Patiala continues to grow in might because of their heroism. Obviously, they know that they are no more than cannon fodder and my attempts to humour them look ridiculous. Therefore, as not to continue to offer such condescending nonsense, I offer them a political allegory, as I can’t think of a political allegory I quote my old friend James Kenneth Stephen. Jem regularly crashes around the Cheeky Monkey, mumbling political allusions and spouting political allegories, until Morag, the bewitchingly beautiful but viciously dangerous landlady, throws him out of a window.

 

“Once there was a famous nation

With a long and glorious past:

Very splendid was its station,

And its territory vast;

It had won the approbation,

The applause and admiration,

Of the states who'd had occasion

In a time of tribulation

And of disorganisation,

Not mention degradation

And profound humiliation,

To observe it standing fast

Without any trepidation,

Or a sign of vacillation,

Firm and faithful to the last.

 

Came a time of dire distraction,

Full of terror and despair,

When a delicate transaction

Called for unexampled care;

But the people were directed,

Both the well and ill affected,

To a wholly unexpected

And surprising course of action

Based on motives new and rare

(Being governed by a faction,

As they generally were).

 

In a little time the nation

Had a chance of saying whether

It and its administration

Seemed inclined to pull together;

And it spoke its mind with vigour:-

"Such disgraceful conduct must

Everlastingly disfigure

Future annals, and disgust

Evermore the candid student:

You have been unwise, imprudent,

Pusillanimous, unjust,

And neglectful of the glory,

Appertaining to our name

Till this melancholy story

Put a period to our fame."

 

So this faction, disappointed,

Lost the national good graces,

And their rivals were anointed,

And were set in the high places.

 

Pretty soon arose conditions

Most embarrassing and hard,

And the party politicians

Had to be upon their guard.

 

Illegitimate ambitions,

Democratic rhetoricians,

Persons prone to base submissions,

Men of warlike dispositions,

Wild and wicked statisticians,

Metaphysical magicians,

People apt to sign petitions,

Men inclined to make conditions,

And a host of wary foes,

Compassed round the ruling faction:

But a certain line of action

They incontinently chose:

And with great determination

And extreme discrimination,

Not untouched with acclamation,

After proper preparation,

And profound examination

Wrought it out with acclamation,

And each other’s approbation

Till the national taxation

Not unnaturally rose.

 

To the nation soon occurred an

Opportunity of saying

What they thought about the burden

Which the government was laying

On their shoulders; and they said it

In uncompromising terms:-

''Your behaviour would discredit

Tigers, crocodiles, and worms:

You have ruined and disgraced us.

And successfully effaced us,

From the proud commanding station,

Where the zeal and penetration

Of our ancestors had placed us.

Go! we are a ruined nation,

But, before our dissolution

We pronounce your condemnation-

Sappers of our constitution,

Slayers of our reputation! "

 

But the nation - mark the moral,

For its value is untold -

During each successive quarrel

Grew and prospered as of old.“

 

Then, reminding the troops, who look puzzled, that they are actually lucky, as they have advantage of having crutches and artificial limbs to hand, as it were, which they can use as effective weapons. I also added that they will notice, the next time they are under fire, that having missing limbs has made them smaller and harder to hit. Seeing that my little homily has not improved their moral one iota, I share out some of Juan’s Special Reserve and, whipping out my bagpipes, we dance Highland reels, stumbling and clattering around and around for hours until everyone collapses and falls into a stupor. I slap Bhupindra a few times, to wake him up, then slap him a few times just for fun, then, wiping the drool from his chest, I wish him, and his men, the best of luck, and walk away with as much grace as I can muster, trying to appear as if I am someone who knows exactly where he is going, and why; an image that proves difficult to maintain as, with things somewhat bleary, all I can manage are little steps forwards and sideways and backwards, holding my arms out for balance then, stumbling over my own feet, I grab Bhupindra  for support but, tripping over an injured soldier, I  fall backwards, and we both fall into a ditch which, we quickly discover, is the field latrine. I reflect, as we flounder around in excrement, that this is not the graceful exit I was hoping for and does not reflect the best traditions of the service. Despite this, I hope, as we sink in the muck, that I have helped the situation and that Bhupindra’s valiant troops, or what remains of them, remain willing, if not entirely able, to be cut to ribbons for the honour, glory and ever-increasing wealth of their noble leader, the Maharaja of Patiala.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

 

 

Generez and Seymour


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Arriving at a small town, the first thing I notice is s parade coming down the street and, to my delight, I recognize Hiragaz, my old elephant. Then someone shouts, “Humperdink, thank God you’re here, do you know how to stop this thing?” and I look up to see Seymour, one of our top agents, peering down at me. I climb up beside him and he whispers that he is masquerading as the Maharaja of Gwailior. Although don’t ask him why he doing this, as I have my own problems, I do ask him where we are, he shrugs, says that he has no idea and explains that they started out holding a parade in Morar, but that the elephant just kept on going. I tell Seymour to relax, and using our old code, I shout ‘Mouse!’ Hiragaz doesn’t like mice and immediately stops. We all tumble forward and collapse in a heap on the street.

 

I comment that this does not seem to befit the dignity expected of a great Maharaja. As a crowd is gathering, telling Seymour that I would extol his glories to the people and restore their appreciation of his true majesty, I leap out in front of the crowd and, pointing at Seymour, jumping up and down, trying to get his hat back from Hiragaz, ennobling words slip my mind and I recite the first thing that comes into my head, which happen to be ‘The Splendid Bankrupt’ by my old friend Arthur Sykes, or Psycho Sykes, as we used to call him. I pronounce the first few lines with as much solemnity as I can muster.

 

“Under its spreading bankruptcy

The village mansion stands;

Its lord, a mighty man is he,

With large broad-acred lands;

And all the laws that baulk his creditors

Are as strong as iron bands.”

 

“His laugh is free and loud and long,

His dress is spick and span,

He pays no debt with honest sweat,

He keeps whate’er he can,

And stares the whole world in the face,

For he fears not any man.”

 

Feeling that I am getting the attention of the crowd, I wave my arms around, and continue shouting out the verses more and more excitedly, until I finish, frothing with derision and spitting with fury at Seymour:

 

“Scheming, promoting, squandering,

Onward through life he goes;

Each morning sees some “deal” begun,

Each evening sees it close;

Some coup attempted, someone “done”

Has earned a night’s repose.”

 

“Thanks, thanks, to thee my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou hast taught!

Thus, in the busy City life

Our fortunes must be wrought;

Thus does the Splendid Bankrupt thrive

While honest fools get nought!”

 

It occurs to me, in the silence that followed, that I could have chosen verses more appropriate for praising the magnificence of the Maharaja of Gwailior and inculcating a sense of awe and respect his personage should naturally inspire. Seymour straightens his clothes and his hat and tries to look suitably important, unfortunately, Generez, who either does not understand the gravity of the situation or has a peculiar sense of humour, wraps his trunk around Seymour’s left foot, lifts him high in the air, holds him upside down and swings him backwards and forwards in front of the crowd. This is an unedifying sight and, seeing that Seymour may have lost some of his authority, I wish him the best of luck, and leave immediately.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Cyril


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Fortunately, just as I am getting somewhat fed up with wandering around the desert, I bump into my old friend Cyril, one of our top agents. After sharing a dram of Special Reserve, I tell him that, because of Juan’s reckless idiocy, I don’t know where I am, and ask him for directions. Unfortunately, it turns out; Cyril is in the same situation as me. He tells me that he’s been lost for years and that he doesn’t have the slightest idea where we are. He asks me where I just came from and, when I indicate the general direction, he looks at me in alarm, then he shakes his head sorrowfully, then he taps his nose with his forefinger, as if to say, ‘look, this is my nose’, then, crossing his eyes, sticking his tongue out and violently slapping his forehead, he waves his stick toward the distant horizon. I am not entirely sure what all this means, although, when he whispers, ‘the voices, the voices, I can’t stop the voices’, tears his clothes off and skips away over the desert, waving his arms up and down and singing ‘I’m a daffodil today, I’ll be a butterfly next week, then, I know, I’ll be a mouse, eek, eek, eek’ I realize that Cyril may have spent too long in the desert.

Leaving Neddy to escort Cyril home, thankful that, at least, I am not as mad as my friend; I wade on across the burning desert, only occasionally stopping to throw my head back, balance a scorpion on my chin and bunny hop up and down a sand dune, barking like a seal. Desert survival experts always recommend this as, without such diversions, as can be seen with Cyril, the mind-numbing boredom of the desert can send perfectly healthy people completely around the bend. 


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

22.11.08

Back to Earth

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I land at great speed. When I regain consciousness, I don’t know where I am. Looking around, befuddled and confused, the first thing I notice is Neddy, it is wonderful to see him but, as I know he is working with the Munatafiq donkey division (Secret Intelligence unit no. 9), I dare not risk compromising his cover. This is irritating as Neddy would be able to act as my guide and carry me to India. Realizing that it is essential I don’t attract any attention, I wait quietly around the corner, thinking about the problem and sipping Juan’s Special Reserve, until Neddy passes, then I leap out, screaming the Black Watch war cry. Neddy, with an answering bray of recognition, immediately bucks, throws the rider off his back, stamps on them, spins around, kicks another two people in the stomach, hurling them on to the ground, then, while Neddy leaps around, kicking and biting and stamping on everyone in sight, I leap on his back. When Neddy is satisfied that nobody is going to get up, we gallop away, leaving bloodied footprints down the cobbled streets.

As an angry mob develops, I shout apologies to everyone, I want to explain that Neddy is a highly trained war donkey and that his unbridled ferocity when dealing with such situations does not reflect his essentially gentle nature. However, as nobody seems to understand me, we continue galloping. I feel I have not been as discreet as I would have liked and I trust that the agents Juan will be training in Africa do not turn out to be so incompetent, and if they do prove to be completely useless, I hope that, when this sort of thing occurs, they are with someone like Neddy, to apply intelligence and valour when theirs is sadly lacking. Now, judging by the speed Neddy is maintaining, and the architecture, I think we are heading for India, as fast as we possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Approaching Earth

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Approaching the Earth rapidly. Juan says that, because we are scorifyingly behind schedule, I should leave immediately and that he will take The Lion and her crew back to the Isle of Wight, and then meet me in Africa. I consider it beneath my dignity to have to point out that we are a hundred miles up and about to crash in New Mexico. We have had fun travelling around the Solar System and, sorry to have missed some of the planets, we promise to return as soon as possible. To celebrate returning to Earth, Juan opens a tank of vintage Royal Lochnagar Special Reserve and we dance the Highland Fling with Arthur Wood. After drinking to the success of our mission, I grab a bottle of Juan’s Special Reserve; throw on a parachute, then, shouting goodbye to Juan and the crew and yelling “Geronimo!” I leap out of The Lion. Helplessly spinning downwards, swinging backwards and forwards like a demented pendulum, lost, confused and nauseatingly befuddled, I descend from space in a manner which, I feel, would be frowned upon by people who do this sort of thing professionally.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary 

To Earth


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On the way to Earth, unexpectedly on the Moon. Juan claims that, as we were approaching the Earth too quickly to stop, he was forced to slow down by crashing on the Moon. This is as stupid and as annoying as a flea-ridden merkin, as, unless we waste another dram of malt, to fire the engines up, we will remain stuck on the lunar surface until space flight becomes common, when we will be rescued, which may be some time.

Opening a tank of Special Reserve Bemrinnes and saluting the rising Earth, Juan reminds me that some of the most beautiful women in the world live on the Earth, every one of which, he says, is a very good reason to get back as quickly as possible. I point out that we are also peccantly behind schedule and that the crew, who did not want to come into space in the first place, are suffering from shock, space sickness, delirium tremens and sun burn. I add that this is entirely his fault. He shouts back that the crew are lucky to be alive and that I am just being petulant because I can’t fly a spaceship any better than he can. This is possibly true and, as I can’t think of a reasonable reply, I grab his beard and squeeze it over the fuel pipe. The malt, squirting from the beard, runs down to the engine, which, suddenly injected with the explosive liquid, screams into action. We shoot straight up, loop the loop and fire off into space, heading towards Earth. Now, to the sound of the screaming crew and the roar of the engines, clapping and cheering, performing inadvertent cartwheels and chucking vintage malt in all directions, we toast the health and happiness of everyone on Earth.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

21.11.08

Vulcan

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We are about to crash into the Sun, but, as we are admiring the wonderful sight of its fiery surface, we notice a planet approaching us. As we didn’t expect a planet in this area, we are very surprised. I say that it’s an unknown planet and should be called Humperdink; Juan disagrees, saying that, as he is the pilot, it should be named Perez. In order to settle the argument in the traditional Scottish manner, we immediately start a violent brawl. I head butt Juan across the flight deck, he retaliates with a spinning high kick to my head, misses, and, in the low gravity, continues spinning; with every revolution I manage to get in some very effective kidney punches, but, disappointingly, just when I feel that I’m getting the upper hand, and start looking forward to my name being immortalized, Juan does a back flip, grabs a broken lever and hammers me into unconsciousness. I wake up just in time to hear Arthur Wood on the intercom, telling us that the planet is not unknown, as we thought, that it was discovered years ago and, because it is particularly hot, it is called Vulcan. As Arthur is a highly educated man we are prepared to believe him, but when Arthur adds that the planet is inhabited by people with pointed ears, we realise that Arthur must be suffering from having drunk too much malt so we ignore him and continue the fight. I launch myself across the flight deck, catch Juan by surprise and, getting him in a headlock, smash his face into the fuel pipe, he immediately springs a nosebleed and his blood, composed primarily of vintage single malt, fires the engines up. We flip uncontrollably, spin around Vulcan and head back towards Earth, shrieking with excitement and slopping whisky everywhere, trying to toast the magnificence of the Sun, the beauty of Vulcan and and, out of respect for Arthur, the health and happiness of everyone with pointed ears.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

20.11.08

Into the Sun


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As we are plummeting towards the Sun, Juan gets on the intercom and, to reassure the crew, tells them that it is possible to flick a finger through a candle flame without sustaining an injury, and says that the same principal applies and that, if we are travelling fast enough, we will be perfectly safe. We can tell by their despairing shrieks that they aren’t entirely in agreement. Juan is a disappointed and mumbles that they lack the true pioneering spirit, however, peering through whisky bottles, we can see that the Sun does look somewhat fiery, so I suggest that, on this occasion, we could go around, rather than through, the Sun. Juan, reluctantly, agrees, but points out that, without wasting any more malt to power the engine, we don’t have any reasonable way of altering our course. This is irritating, so we ask the crew if they have any suggestions and, leaving them to contemplate the problem, we break open a tank of vintage Macduff then, singing wild Tzigani songs, dancing wild Tzigani dances and toasting everyone’s happiness and health, we plunge into the radiant fury of our magnificent star.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

19.11.08

Approaching the Sun


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Juan spent years living in a hole in the desert and habitually breakfasts on scorpions, fried in sweat, and I always enjoy the Sun. However, listening to the intercom, we can tell by the moans of the crew that they are in some distress. Juan, realising that they may be becoming dehydrated, diverts a flow of vintage Brackla Reserve directly to their cabins. Now, torrefyingly behind schedule, bathed in the beautiful solar flares, singing, dancing, yelling with excitement and toasting the magnificence of our Solar System, we dive toward the Sun, as fast as we possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

18.11.08

To the Sun


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Checking our map, we realise that we are heading towards the Sun, this is exciting and we look forward to celebrating with a great deal of hot toddy.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

17.11.08

Leaving Saturn


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Fortunately, most of the rats are soaked with the malt that we have spilt and, by squeezing rat after rat into the fuel pipe, we are able to take off again. Juan opens a tank of vintage Glenturret to salute the glorious rings of Saturn. Typically, however, the nobility of this fine malt diverts his attention and we immediately crash on another moon. Infuriated by the fact that we are poppockishly behind schedule, I pour half a dram of Scapa into the fuel pipe. The engine nearly explodes with the power of this wonderful malt, and we shoot upward, screaming with excitement and tossing whisky in all directions as we try to toast the success of our mission. Discovering that, flipping end over end and revolving at high speed, it is almost impossible to get the whisky from our glasses to our mouths, we are forced to suck rats.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Another moon


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Juan, reluctant to break into our precious supply of single malt to fire the engines up, wrings a whisky-sodden rat into the fuel pipe. The engine flares into life and we are propelled skywards. To celebrate, Juan opens a tank of Auchentoshan, salutes the majesty of Saturn, forgets he is piloting a spacecraft, and promptly crashes into another moon. This is irritating, Juan’s excuse, that Saturn has too many moons, is pathetic and, once again, because of his idiocy, we find ourselves podsnappingly delayed and pockpoppingly behind schedule.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

16.11.08

Around Saturn

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Calculating that, after crashing on Saturn, the engine would require as much as a whole pint of single malt to take off again, Juan, panicking, crashes on a passing moon. Now, orbiting Saturn, Juan comments on the view while I enjoy the fabulous spectacle of uncle Arthur ridding the flight deck of rats.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary 

15.11.08

Approaching Saturn

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The sight of Saturn getting rapidly larger is disconcerting and, as the flight deck is intolerably squalid and stinks like a skunk’s duct, I take a short break and visit uncle Ted. Ted had expected a quick trip from the Isle of Wight to France, to deliver some fish, rather than a journey around the solar system, and complains that the fish, in the low gravity of the ship, were leaping out of their tanks and swarming all over his cabin. I tell uncle not to worry as we will be crashing on Saturn shortly and that the gravity of the great planet will be more than sufficient to contain his fish in their tanks. For some reason this does not reassure him and, grabbing fish out of the air, he hurls them at me, shouting that he doesn’t want to crash on Saturn but just wants to get back home. I am surprised, uncle used to be a great traveler but, since taking up his piscatorial interests, he has become disappointingly provincial. However, realizing that we are putridly behind schedule, wishing uncle Ted, and his fish, the best of luck, I claw my way back to the flight deck as fast as I possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

13.11.08

To Saturn

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Looking at our planet speed map, we calculate that we will hit Saturn at between seven and fifty thousand miles per hour, we are not sure what to do with this information, so we ignore it and, dressing for the occasion, we celebrate Saturn in the traditional fashion.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary


Missing Jupiter


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To avoid wasting good malt as fuel, I suggest we use the seasoning that Juan uses to keep his bagpipes supple. He pours some of the noxious liquid into a broken fuel pipe and we wait for it to ooze down to the engine. Suddenly, with a bloodcurdling shriek, the engine powers into life and we are flung upwards where we remain, stuck to the ceiling, then, with the sudden flipping of the ship, we are thrown to the floor where we are held down, enduring the overpowering stench of Jupiter’s gas clouds, becoming flatter and flatter, until the ship flips again and we repeat the procedure. Nonetheless, we are surprised and very happy to watch Jupiter pass beneath us, and we cheer wildly when we shoot up and out of the clouds and see the stars swim back into view. We try to celebrate missing Jupiter with a toast but, savagely bouncing around, all we can do is throw whisky over ourselves and hope to catch as much as we can in our beards, which we can then suck at our leisure.


Noticing the smashed instruments, the burnt, filthy controls, the ship’s wheel, broken, and dripping with vomit, and watching Juan, turning head over heels, roaring a disgusting Pictish drinking song while spattering rare vintage whisky in wobbling and uncertain arcs, I observe that, not only are we mephitically behind schedule but, if the planet ahead of us is Saturn, and, judging by its rings, I think it probably is, we will shortly crash on Saturn in a condition that, in my opinion, does not provide a perfect example of the nobility of the human spirit. Juan shouts that he is in complete agreement, belches like a gassy frog, sets fire to a fart and, propelled on a jet of flame, shouting with excitement and flapping his arms, he crashes against the control panel and gets his head stuck between two broken levers. Witnessing this, in order to retain my sanity, I take the opportunity to rock backwards and forwards for ten hours, drooling, cackling and babbling and banging my head against the wall. This is surprisingly easy in the low gravity and, with my normality restored, sniggering and slapping my ears with the soles of my feet, I contemplate the serene beauty of the far-flung stars.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

12.11.08

Approaching Jupiter


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We would like to fly safely around Jupiter but, if our calculations are correct, we have no chance. Trying to work our how long we have before impact, as all the clocks have been smashed and my watch is full of porridge, I switch on the intercom and ask if anyone knows the time. Our old friend, Arthur Wood, replies, and tells us that it is two minutes past seven.  Then he starts humming one of his annoying Maypole dances.  He sings “Tum ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum tum ti-tum ti ta tum.”  Then he asks if it needs another ‘tum’, and repeats it, with another tum at the end: “Tum ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum tum ti-tum ti ta tum tum?”  Then he says, “Or should it be, ‘tumpity tumpity, tumpity tum?’”  This is very irritating, but Juan, trying to be helpful, says, “Try ‘Dum-di-dum-di-dum-di-dum-dum-di-dum-di-dum-dum’!”  I say that that is idiotic and tell Arthur to sing, ‘Pompty pomty, pompty pom, pompty pompty pom-pom’ instead.  Then Juan suggests it should go, ‘dum-de dum-di, dum-di dum, dumpety, dumpety, dum-dum.’  This is so mind-twistingly boring I want to bite my own leg off, so we do a Maypole dance, to test it properly. 

 

Singing ‘Tompty, pompty dum dum’, we dance around a fire extinguisher, toasting the health and happiness of all out friends in Barwick-in-Elmet.  Realising we may be short of time, Juan quickly opens a tank of vintage Convalmore, and, fortuitously, as we slop whisky around, trying to toast Arthur’s success, a comet shoots past the window, as if to illuminate the moment.  So that everyone who sees it will remember Arthur Wood, and his wonderful music, we consider calling the comet ‘Wood’s Comet,’ but eventually decide to name it ‘Tum-de-Tiddely, Tum Tum’. Childishly, Juan thinks this is funny, but Arthur is cross and shouts that ‘Tum-de-tiddely tum tum’ does not adequately represent his body of work.  At this point, I cannot stop myself commenting that we are wurzelingly behind schedule and about to collide with a very large planet.  Hearing Arthur starting to hum the tune again, I also make it clear that if I hear anyone else say ‘tiddely tum’ again I will run amuck.  As I say this, Juan, sets off the fire extinguisher, stupidly claiming that he was testing it, as we might have to use it against unfriendly Jupitarians, then he drops the extinguisher, in surprise at the its power, and we dive around, trying to avoid the thing as it hurtles around the bridge, pounds what remains of the instruments to smithereens and covers everything with stinking, freezing goo. 

 

Juan, after a moment, points out that, in the winter, being thrown into the snow, battered and sticky, covered in broken things, with everything spinning, beaten up, bleeding, bruised and completely befuddled, was how everyone leaves the Cheeky Monkey.  So here, he proposes, on a sophisticated spaceship, we should relax and enjoy ourselves.  Then Arthur, as if in agreement, starts humming ‘tump-te, tum-te, tum-de tum’.  Rather than screaming, I resign myself to the fact that I am travelling with idiots and, as we hurtle into the gas giant, I divert myself by dancing the limbo and balancing on my nose, which, in this low gravity, is surprisingly easy and fun.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

11.11.08

Towards Jupiter

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To celebrate having survived thus far, Juan opens a tank of vintage Auchroisk and we toast the ship, the crew, the planets, the moons and the stars.  Looking out of the window, we are amazed at the wonderful sights; Juan points to an object and asks whether it’s Ursa Minor, I tell him that I don’t think it is but that it certainly vindicates great uncle Humperdink who, after becoming an anti-hunt campaigner, had something to say about the Little Bear, something that lost him the opportunity to become Astronomer Royal, threw doubt on his being appointed as Poet Laureate and, finally, persuaded the authorities that he was completely round the bend.   Now, pigwigglingly delayed and potwallopingly behind schedule, singing and dancing, confused, lost, bamboozled and befuddled, we hurtle on toward Jupiter as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

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Great uncle’s pronouncement


10.11.08

To Jupiter

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Tumbling through space, jarringly delayed and juvenescently behind schedule.  Staring out of the window, we can see something large ahead, consulting our map, we think that, as it’s very big and doesn’t have rings, it’s probably Jupiter.  Juan gets excited, saying that we can use the gravity, spin around the planet, and head back to Earth.  I point out that, much like Juan, Jupiter is mostly gas and might not have very much gravity.    Nonetheless, without wasting valuable single malt to power the engine, we can’t change direction and have no choice but to continue careering towards the mighty planet. 

Juan asks me where the crew are and I tell him that, as with every crewmember on every craft that Juan pilots, they are huddled in their bunks, variously screaming, praying, having nervous breakdowns and too terrified to function.  Juan says that they just need some Scotch, to cheer them up, and throws a lever that distributes vintage Glenfiddich directly to every cabin.  A short while later, I switch on the ship’s intercom system and we can hear people singing, hiccupping, shouting, brawling, being sick and bouncing off the walls.  This is encouraging, and we look forward to having a lot of fun on our way to Jupiter.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Between planets


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Spinning through the solar system, out of control and snutishly behind schedule.  Looking out of the window, we observe that in deep space, between planets and moons, we are, at least, safe from danger, a second later, a large rock hurtles past and we revise our opinion.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

9.11.08

Leaving the Moon

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The view is spectacular but, with one star looking much like another, it doesn’t assist navigation.  I find another map in one of our books; however, we have to take into account that it is probably out of date.  This, irritatingly, means that, until we work out our bearings, we will continue to whirl through the solar system, lost, befuddled and scuttishly behind schedule.  Juan, however, has another concern and he says that the incredible acceleration caused by the dram of Special Reserve could have caused a temporal displacement and shifted us back in time, and Earth itself might have reverted to the state that it was in thousands of years ago.  I tell him this is fanciful nonsense but, glancing back at the Earth, I realise that he may have a point.


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Professor Humperdink's Diary

8.11.08

Missing the Moon

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To our surprise, we miss the Moon by a few hundred yards.  Screaming over the lunar craters and tearing off into the firmament; we are delighted to have avoided another calamitous crash, but, with only being able to run our engine on whisky, we recognise that navigating our way back to Earth without wasting any more of our precious single malt is going to be a challenge.  Peering out of the window, we can see the Andromeda nebula dead ahead but, as it is trillions of miles away, it doesn’t help local navigation and we quickly search through our bag of books for a map.  The map that we find turns out to be equally useless.  Hurtling into the cosmos, with an inadequate map and no reasonable way of changing direction, another irritating example of Juan’s crookedly irreverent attitude to the professionalism normally expected of a space pilot, it is obvious that we are going to be viscidly delayed and find ourselves, again, glutinously behind schedule.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary