Finding a cave, we are delighted to come across Juan’s sister, Jacinta, and her husband, Zindelo, making a fire for some hot toddy. Zindelo tells us that they had to leave Biskra in a hurry because Juan turned up and caused a riot. Mahaleth shrugs and says that this is typical of Juan, and adds that Juan is another hopeless case who should learn to recognise more flags, a skill, she claims, that is necessary for all agents. To test us, she produces some flags and asks which are the odd ones out. This is easy and I point to the flag of the Commissioner of Lighthouses, saying that the other two are for the Bureau of Fisheries and Bureau of Lighthouses so, with two bureaus and one commissioner, the commissioner must be the odd one out. Mahalath tells me that I’m wrong, as the odd one out is the flag with a fish on it. Then she shows us another selection of flags, Jacinta says that the odd one out is the letter ‘M’ in the international code of signals. Zindelo guesses it’s the flag of
Majorca, as it’s the only one with stripes. Mahalath tells them they’re both wrong, as the other flags are of Morea, Montenegro, Malta and Ceuta, so, not beginning with an ‘M’, the Ceutan flag is obviously the odd one out. This is so leg-chewingly dull that, before she can produce more flags, I tell her that I have to take Nap for a walk. Fortunately, as Nap is a Bhutanese sloth bear who moves very slowly, we can take a very slow walk and avoid further flags for hours and hours.
Professor Humperdink’s Diary