Professor Humperdink III

Easy Reading

Add to Google

28.2.09

Pirathon’s Pillar


.
When crossing a wilderness, it is customary to sing and brawl, to keep alert, but, I discover, the recruits have spent too much time attending Stephen’s lessons and they don’t know any songs and tend to fall down immediately when hit, which is hardly a useful brawl.  Instead of enjoying themselves, for entertainment, they set each other ridiculous and pointless puzzles.

Succa’athites said, “What is the heaviest, a hundred ounces of solid gold or a hundred ounces of feathers?”  Pygarg replied, saying that they both weigh the same.  Azbuk says Pygarg is right, but I say that that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, everyone knows feathers are lighter than gold, otherwise ducks would have gold plate instead of feathers.  Merom says that I am missing the point and that a hundred ounces of anything weighs the same as a hundred ounces of anything else.  I say that if an aeroplane dropped a hundred ounces of gold and a hundred ounces of feathers, the gold would make a significant hole in a goat, whereas the feathers wouldn’t weigh enough to stun a beaver, not only that, I add, but gold falls faster than the feathers, which proves that it’s heaver.  Calphi interrupts and tries to explain that factors such as wind resistance and mass make the gold appear heavier, but, he insists, a hundred ounces of gold does weigh exactly the same as a hundred ounces of feathers. 

My brain starts to melt with the dullness of this conversation and I have to remind myself that the recruits don’t know that feathers are weighed by avoirdupois weight and gold is weighed by troy weight or that a troy ounce has four hundred and eighty grains but an avoirdupois ounce only has four hundred and thirty seven and a half grains, so the gold, obviously, is a good deal heavier than the feathers.  However, as thinking about this sort of thing makes me sick with boredom, I agree with everything the recruits say, and sneak away to Pirathon’s Pillar, where I refresh my spirits with a nip of Glenmorangie, a tot of Macduff, and a dram or two of Craigellachie, which, washed down with a flask of Juan’s Special Phosphorescent Reserve, leaves me feeling much fortified, then, reminding myself that Mahalath needs rescuing; yelling at the recruits to hurry up, as we are bibaciously behind schedule, then, to lead by example, I crawl around in small, bewildered, circles, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

To Humperdinkem

.
.
.

.
Before crossing the Humperdinkestinan wilderness, I check my supplies and notice that I am short on Vintage Allt a Bhainne and Lochside.  As the prospect of running low on such fine malts is enough to make a Highlander strangle himself with his garters, I head for Zeeb’s well, for fresh supplies.

Arrive at the well just in time to hear my old desert companion, Stephen, telling new recruits that our fellow instructor, Jehoshaphat, had drunk too much well water and that this was a bad example, as moderation, rather than excess, was the key to desert survival.  I interrupt and tell everyone that there is nothing wrong with the water, and that they should take as much as they want, any time they want, as fast as they can.  But Phi’daius reminds me that, the last time I was here, I poisoned the well.  But say that I did not poison the water, I enhanced and illuminated it.  I was training recruits in tunnel navigation, I explain, and, demonstrating how Juan and I lit the interior of the pyramids, I shone a light into a bottle of Juan’s Special Reserve.  When I poured it into a bucket, the light and the malt flowed out together.  I immediately shared the luminescent malt with the recruits, telling them that, using this method, they can keep themselves refreshed and navigate the darkest tunnels.  While passing out the effulgent whisky, Merom accidently dropped the bucket into the well.  

Stephen tells me to go away, but, pointing to Jehoshaphat, as proof, I insist the whisky did not contaminate the water, but gave it unique properties that all agents find essential, and, rubbed into a beard, will rid it of all unwelcome creatures.

Pygarg asks me what I am doing in Humperdinkestine.  Stephen says that, whatever I am doing, I should go and do it elsewhere.  I tell everyone that I’m ballooningly behind schedule and have to get to Humperdinkem, to rescue Mahalath.  The recruits, desperate to escape the tedium of Stephen’s lesson, ask if they can help.  Stephen complains, but I tell them that Mahalath must be in a very dangerous situation as, normally, she is rabidly efficient at escaping from tight corners, so everyone is welcome. 

Bearing in mind that we may cross a dark, barren wilderness, we fill jars with radiant whisky then, offering toast after toast to the success of our mission, I blow up my bagpipes, everyone links arms, and we crash around in a wild, exultant, Highland Reels until Phi’daius accidently hurls Stephen into the well.  Shouting down the well, I tell him we’ll get him out after rescuing Mahalath, and that he should just relax and enjoy the bright-lit splendour of the glorious water, then, clapping and cheering and hullabalooing with excitement, we lurch to the rescue, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.2.09

Bert


.

.
Heading down to Lake Humperdink; staggering through a small wood, I am surprised and delighted to come across my old friend Bert Link, in a tree.  I tell Bert that I had heard that he was missing, but he explains that he’s not missing, he just hasn’t been found yet

After sharing some Vintage Bruichladdich, Glendullan and Balmenach with Bert, I ask him if he has seen Mahalath, as I am meant to be rescuing her and, having been boggedly delayed so many times, I am marishly behind schedule.  Bert points to the hills, on the far side of the lake, and tells me that Mahalath is in Humperdinkem, a small town in Humperdinkestine. He offers to come with me, to help rescue Mahalath, but points out that he doesn't have a boat, and, not having come down from the trees, he can’t swim.  I thank him for his kind offer; wish him the best of luck, then, celebrating the fact that, unlike apes, and their descendants, I can swim like an otter, I dive into Lake Humperdink and, barking with excitement and snatching fish with my teeth, I swim to the rescue, as fast as I possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

25.2.09

Into the Forbidden Zone


.
Heading to the hills, after so much time floundering around in the rank, dank morassness of quaggy, sumpy, bogs, full of squiggly things, while putting up with Juan’s lunacies and being chased by large, dangerous animals, it is very nice to be dry and safe and here. 

 

I wonder why Mahalath needs rescuing; in comparison to most of our top agents, she is extremely competent and, unlike Juan, Kulu, Morag or Jock Black, when we are travelling in secret, behind enemy lines, she doesn’t normally cause trouble just to liven things up.  Jock Black and Juan’s idea of remaining incognito in enemy territory is to visit the first drinking establishment they can find, drink the place dry, start a brawl, blow up their bagpipes and march out, playing Highland reels, brandishing dirks at the men and grabbing women at random. Juan insists that grabbing women at random is as good a way of meeting a beautiful woman as any as, sooner or later, you will grab a beautiful one, and that, he says, is the one to keep. 

 

Thankfully, now, I don’t have to put up with this sort nonsense, however, as I am roscidly behind schedule, I quickly  refresh myself with Vintage Lagavulin and Blair Athol, helped down with some Allt a Bhainne, topped up with single-grain Tormore and washed down with Juan’s Special Reserve, then, remembering that I have to rescue Mahalath,  holding my arms out by my sides, for balance, swaying from side to side and singing Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes, and The Birks of Aberfeldy at the top of my voice, I weave to the rescue, as fast as I possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

24.2.09

Approaching the Forbidden Zone


.
Approaching the Forbidden Zone, the crew inform us that they can’t enter the area, as it’s forbidden, and they ask us to go in and rescue Mahalath.  But I am worried about the recruits that I am meant to be training in desert survival, and explain that they are waiting for me in the Unknown Region, in the Desert of Angad.  Juan says that he needs a rest and suggest that I go and rescue Mahalath, and he will find the recruits and, if they are still alive, lead them out of the desert.  After spending the last few days in stinking marshes, the attractions of a nice, dry, desert hike are obvious, so I tell him that he should rescue Mahalath, and that I will lead the recruits through the desert.  He says that Mahalath can look after herself and, frankly, he would rather go to Rio. Although I have to agree, we settle the argument in the traditional Highland fashion, and beat each other into unconsciousness, as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

To the Forbidden Zone


.
Sloshing through antediluvian bogs and crawling through rank quagmires, being attacked by large, obviously non-domesticated animals; Juan complains that the only thing he has to write for this year’s edition of his memoirs is that he spends all his time up to his neck in primeval muck, and the millions of women who are waiting for his salacious, scandalous, stories of high society are going to be disappointed, and, he adds, biting a crocodile on the snout, he is disappointed as well, he could be dancing with beautiful women rather than sinking into a boggy mire with an overgrown lizard at his throat.  Fending off an attack from a hippopotamus, I agree with Juan, fortunately, just as the crocodile bites back, and the hippo stamps me into the mud, Aunt Humperdink’s Agent Rescue Service floats overhead. 

They hoist us aboard and, after shaking off large animals, we immediately head to the malt stores, where we break open barrels of vintage Auchroisk, Glenkinchie, Tobermory, Caperdonich, Glenesk, Knockdhu and Aberfeldy, which, together with a barrel of Juan’s Special Reserve, we distribute to the crew.  Then, thanking them all, and drinking to their bravery and courage, we tell them that we are upseesishly behind schedule and ask them to take us to Humperdinkadad.  They explain that, because of Dirk’s time machine going berserk, there are a lot more agents that need rescuing.  Juan asks if we can rescue the beautiful women first, the crew tell us that the first stop will be the Forbidden Zone, to rescue Mahalath.  We all agree that Mahalath is very beautiful and, offering toast after toast to a successful mission, cheering, clapping, and yelling with excitement, we head to the rescue, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

23.2.09

Brian


.
Juan, dancing a wild Tzigani dance, fell into a swamp and lost his Strathisla hip flask in the mire and, to make matters more serious, falling in after him, I lose my Aberlour hip flask.  As the loss of such fine vintage single malts would make a Highlander eat his brogues in despair, we spend the day diving into the primeval muck searching for the invaluable whisky.  Although our search is hindered by being constantly attacked by large animals we manage to find both flasks and, to celebrate, we drink the Strahisla and Aberlour; wash it down with vintage Bowmore, Lagavulin and Cragganmore, top it up with Juan’s Special Reserve then, cheering and singing and shouting with excitement we blunder into a man carrying a short stick.  I observe that he looks a bit like Jack, and wonder if he, too, comes from Piltdown. 

 

We introduce ourselves and offer him some malt; he takes the whisky gratefully and tells us that his name is Brian and that he is Jack’s cousin.  They had been working on Dirk’s continuum machine, he says, when Jack spilled a quantity of Highland Park over the instrument panel.  The machine, unused to such fine single malt, went berserk.  I say that this explains why everything seemed a bit Pleistocenic.  Juan says that, at least, there’s plenty of interesting animals to eat, but Brian explains that, most of the time, he was being chased by the interesting animals, and fully expects to be hunted to extinction very soon.  I tell Brian that Dirk’s machine is linked to Angus’s clock and, for technical reasons, the clock has gone awry, but that I estimate that we will be back in the proper era before too long. Brian, who is an expert on the subject, asks what the technical reasons are and Juan explains that Angus is playing the part of Mrs Mouse in the Buchanhavan Play. 

 

Brian say that that explains everything as, because Angus’s father and grandfather played the part of Mrs Mouse, and, in their own time, brought such intelligence and integrity to the character as illumined their generation.  Angus’s family’s reputation rests upon Angus providing an inspirational Mrs Mouse, imbued with deep wit and great grace, and his task is made even more difficult, I point out, as, during the first six acts, Mrs Mouse is huddled in a corner, fast asleep, only flicking her tail twice, in the third act.  Juan says that, in the seventh act, Mrs Mouse does raise her head, twitch her ears and squeak three times.  This, we all agree, affords little opportunity to portray the gravitas, clarity and strength of character of Mrs Mouse.  There is also the fact that the audience’s attention to Mrs Mouse is diverted by the entrance of Mr Khorkhoy, the Mongolian death worm. 

 

However, wishing Angus the best of luck, and saluting Dirk’s valiant work on his broken time machine and, given the fact that we seem to be further down the food chain than we would like, we drink toast after toast to the survival of all the wildlife, but hope that, in the evolvement race, the best man wins.  Juan tells Brian that we have been slattishly delayed and ask the way to Humperdinkadad.  He says that it’s in the centre of the Unknown Region. This isn’t helpful so, leaving Brian our reserve Balvenie, Springbank and Glenfiddich flasks, for medicinal purposes, and our flasks of Cragganmore, Bowmore and Balvenie, if he needs more medicine, we say goodbye and stagger straight into another swamp.  Chased by wild animals, shouting and screaming and yelling for help, bamboozled, lost, confused, befuddled and slurrishly behind schedule, we paddle around in terrified circles, as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

21.2.09

Hyracotheriums


.
Spotting a couple of Hyracotheriums, Juan suggests, as we are clodpollishly behind schedule, that we catch them and ride them to Humperdinkadad.  This is a good idea, but I point out that Dirk’s continuum machine is quite likely to accelerate the evolvement of the creatures and we might find ourselves riding tapirs or rhinoceroses and, I remind Juan, the last time he rode a rhinoceros, he failed to control it, and it charged through Wonosobo fruit market.  Wishing to avoid another such calamity, we leave the animals alone and, after refreshing ourselves from our Glencadam, Highland Park, Bladnoch, Dailuaine and Pulteney hip flasks, we totter on through the Pliocene age, as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

20.2.09

Jack


.
As we are lost, we are delighted when we blunder into another human being, although, looking at him, I wonder if the chap is quite human.  Juan says he might be Neanderthal and he had read that the Neanderthals didn’t speak with words, but hummed.  We both hum The Flight of the Bumble Bee, but the fellow just looks at us quizzically.  Deciding that he probably isn’t Neanderthal, I try Tamazight, the oldest African language I know, and Juan tries Ancient Egyptian the oldest African language he knows, but our efforts to communicate are rendered pointless when the chap introduces himself, in perfect English, as Jack Maynard, from Piltdown, East Sussex.  I tell Juan that this explains why I thought he wasn’t quite human.  After sharing some of Juan’s Special Reserve with him, we ask directions to Humperdinkadad, but Jack, unused to such fine single malt, spins around, waves his arms in the air, shouts that he is being attacked by giant pink mastodons and falls backwards and sinks into an oily swamp.  We wait for some time, but he doesn’t reappear, so, raising our hip flasks, we salute Jack and trust that, if anyone finds his remains, they will be treated with the dignity befitting a Piltdown man. 

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

19.2.09

Last rose

.

.
Swimming toward the shore; I tell Juan that there seems to be some evolvement; and things are shrinking, and getting furrier.  Hitting another big, hungry, fishy sort of beast on the nose, Juan shouts that he wishes they would hurry up, as is tired of being chased by horrible monsters. 

On land, I sketch a flower that I see and tell Juan it’s a furry rose, perhaps the last of its kind, but he says it’s not fur, it’s down, which is why, he says, it’s called a downy rose, and they are common as muck.

We fortify ourselves from our Glentauchers, Bruichladdich, Auchentoshan, Strathisia and Craigellachie hip flasks, then, oryctologically behind schedule, singing The Last Rose of Summer at the top of our voices, and offering toast after toast to the success of the Eocene period, we totter onwards, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

18.2.09

Unevolved Humperdinkterygii

.
.
.
.
Although we are frighteningly low on Vintage Auchroisk, Dailuaine, Tomatin, Longmorn and Glenesk, Juan insists on stopping to hunt for roses at every opportunity as, he says, to be without a rose is stupid.  There is nothing, he claims, more useful for wooing a beautiful woman than a beautiful rose.  I say that he is being overly romantic and remind him that he hands out diamonds and pearls to every beautiful woman he meets.  He says that that makes it even more important to give her roses, to show her you know mere trinkets can’t buy her.  I point out that he also gives them aeroplanes, fast cars, yachts, houses, islands and, on several occasions, kingdoms.  Juan says he only does what any man would do, but, he adds, only for women who need those sort of things.  I point out that, so far, they all need those sort of things, which is why the three of four republics, of which he was president, are hopelessly bankrupt and subsist entirely on malt and bananas, not to mention Lithuania’s missing millions.  Juan says that it was spent on a good cause, but that doesn’t diminish the value of a half-decent rose. 

I show him a sketch of a rose, but he sneers and says it’s a trailing rose and a trailing rose, necessarily, trails, and, as we are battologistically behind schedule, trailing a rose would slow us down.  I argue that any rose is a trailing rose, if it’s trailed; held out in front, it would be a ‘leading rose’, or, held to the side, an ‘accompanying rose’.  This rambling, stupid, conversation quickly escalates into a brawl; although I get a good grip on Juan’s beard, he hits me on the head with his bagpipe drones, I throw him over my shoulder but he grabs my sporran and we fall down, tumble down an incline and roll over a cliff. 

Crashing into the sea, and looking at the sub-sea wildlife, which is looking back at us, Juan asks why even the fish are dangerous here.  I tell him that they need time to evolve and that the big thing with big teeth that was having a snack while it decided on its next meal, would probably evolve into a perfectly harmless little Humperdinkterygii, which will probably go nicely with toast, but, as that will take millions of years, we decide not to wait and, after quickly opening Juan’s Special Reserve hip flasks and toasting little fish, we scream hysterically and splash around in panicky circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

17.2.09

Leaving the Marsh

.
.

.
The quagmire that we blunder into, while looking for a rose for Colinette, is particularly sticky, even the frogs are stuck.  Finding ourselves slowly sinking, the only way we can stay afloat is to drink from our hip flasks and, when they are lighter, use them as buoyancy tanks.  We emerge from the stinking alluvium, desperately low on Oban, Bunnahabhainn, Glengoyne, Caol Ila, Tamdhu, Knockdhu, Jura, Ardbeg and Linkwood, and feeling slightly under the weather.  Escaping from the marsh has taken too long, and I remind Juan that we are still lost, and feculently behind schedule.  Juan points out the fact that we are also soaked, and stink, and says that, if we had found a rose, it would sweeten the stench. 

I quickly sketch a rose, dip it in vintage Glendronach, and wave it around.  This does sweeten the air, but Juan complains that it isn’t a proper rose; it’s a rosebay.  I tell him it’s a fireweed, a perfectly good flower, and remind him that, in Eklunta, he uses Rosebay to draw the pus from his grandfather’s wen, and the Dene women use it to decorate their spears.  Juan says that, apart from the terrible smell, giving a pus-soaked, bloody, weed to Colinette is a bad idea. 

Noticing a large elephanty sort of animal, of uncertain temperament, we stop only long enough to offer a toast all our Navajo friends, then, singing The Yellow Rose of Texas at the top of our voices, shouting, brawling and scurfishly behind schedule, we slosh around in befuddled circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

14.2.09

Roses for Colinette




.
.

.
Juan remembers that he promised to pick up some roses for Colinette, in Amiens.  I quickly sketch a rose, but he says it’s not a real rose, it’s a dog-rose, and, anyway, he says, he needs a real Picardian rose, as the roses, and women, of Picardy are the most beautiful women, and roses, in the world.  I say that we are a long way from Picardy and, showing him sketches of the landscape, I tell him that a scientist would say, in such a harsh environment, roses are going to take millions of years to evolve, so we shouldn’t wait.  But Juan points out that, alongside the dinosaurs, there is a bird, and, as the scientists say that birds evolved from dinosaurs, this proves they’re wrong, and the place is probably crawling with roses.

I hand Juan a sketch of the other bird, the one above the dinosaurs, the larger, less friendly looking bird that is swooping down on us, and remind him that we are under attack, lost, and syrtishly behind schedule.  Stopping only to fortify ourselves from our Aberfeldy, Lochside, Inchgower and Glen Spey hip flasks, and, scaring off irritatingly non-extinct creatures by singing The Roses of Picardy at the top of our voices,  manically swatting a very big bird, we stagger on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Shell reversal

.
.
Juan says that, because of the time reversal machine, not only are the clocks going backwards, but, if our vintage malt does the same thing, it will become younger and lose its vintagity.  I tell Juan that I don’t think anything much will change because time is probably polarised in one direction, like a spiral, and however you turn it, the spiral always goes the same way.  To demonstrate, I pick up a stone that, in its youth, was a spirally shellfish, then, turning it this way and that, I prove that, however it’s turned, the spiral‘s direction stays the same.  But, when Juan has a go, he turns the stone over and crows, which is startling and unpleasant, and he shows me that the spiral has been reversed.  This is irritating, and I tell him that he has twisted the shellfish through the fourth dimension and reversed it’s polarity, and I’m glad the poor creature passed away millions of years ago and didn’t survive to endure such unpleasantness.  However, we both do realise that this means that our vintage whisky might be losing its vintageness quickly. 

Although what is lost in ripe maturity will be gained in youthful bloom, we don’t hesitate to taste our malt, while it retains the majesty of age, and, knocking back hip flask after hip flask of Speyburn, Allt a Bhainne, Dalwhinnie, Tullibardine and Glenordie, washed down with Juan’s Special Reserve, carousingly behind schedule, singing and dancing and shouting with excitement, we stagger on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary



13.2.09

Watch reversal

.
.

.
I notice that my Vintage Edradour hip flask is running alarmingly low and Juan says he is thinking about breaking into his Royal Lochnagar Reserve flask.  Realising the seriousness of running low on single malt, as well as being lubberishly behind schedule, we attempt to work out the best direction to travel in, to collect new supplies.  I remind Juan that the Boy Scouts say it’s possible to use a watch as a compass. Juan digs around in his pockets and produces a fob watch.  I am surprised as I thought Juan didn’t know the time of day, but he says that he is just looking after it for Logan.  I tell him to place a match upright against the watch, so that it throws a shadow along the hour hand.  When he has done this, I tell him that the hour hand is now pointing at the sun.  After a while, he asks me how this helps.  I tell him that I can’t remember the rest, but that he should be able to work it out for himself.  He can’t, and he says that, anyway, the watch is running backwards.

I look in the back of the watch and say that Dirk’s time reversal machine is powered by Dougal’s clock, which is connected by Ken’s machine to Angus’s pendulum, and it was quite likely that Angus, in practising for his part as Mr’s Mouse, in the Buchanhaven Play, has scampered up the pendulum, set the whole thing off, and made Logan’s fob-watch go backwards, so we shouldn’t worry about it, all we need do, I suggest, is to change the cogs around, and I draw him a diagram. 

This looks simple but, it turns out, it isn’t, and, failing to make a working watch, we have no other way of estimating the time, other than by estimating that it’s time to break into our Vintage Talisker Reserve flasks and, toasting the day, cheering and shouting with excitement, singing wild Tzigani songs and dancing wild Tzigani dances, we stagger on, to replenish our flasks, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

12.2.09

Sally


.
Coming across an anaconda, we immediately recognise Sally, Juan’s old pet.  I tell Juan that I had heard that Sally put up with working in Chuff’s snake dance routine for a week or so, then, fed up with being oiled with engine grease and shone up with an old rag, she left the circus, eating Sandy, the Balancing Seal, and his ball, Charlie, Angel, Pip, Kim, Alice, Starbright and Sasha, from Polly’s Performing Poodle Troupe, and Mavis the Juggling Midget, on the way out.  Juan picks up Sally and places her around his neck, and collapses under her weight.  He wants to stop and make a truck to pull the snake but I point out that we are lost and swinishly behind schedule so, raising our hip flasks, wishing Sally the best of luck and promising to come back and collect her, singing Johnnie Cope and Sally in our Alley at the top of our voices, we totter on, as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

.

Sally and Johnnie

Humperdinkasaurus

.

.
Juan says, if all these animals are meant to be extinct, they should know that we aren’t part of their food chain, and stop chasing us.  I say that they probably don’t know that they’re meant to be extinct, and they probably have the same philosophy as us, eat first, ask questions later.  Besides, I point out, the proof that scientists drink too much is that some of them think the dinosaurs did not become extinct; they evolved into birds, and the fifty-ton Humperdinkasaurus bearing down on us would probably evolve into Lady Amherst’s Pheasant.  Juan says that he wishes it would hurry up, then he could hit it on the head with a bottle.  I tell him that sort of thing takes millions of years, so, terrified, and gloamishly behind schedule, we don’t wait, and, offering toast after toast to successful, and speedy, evolvement, and singing The Pheasant Plucking Song at the top of our voices, we crawl on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

11.2.09

On shore

.
.

.
Collapsing on the shore, we notice that a small amount of Juan’s Special Reserve has leaked from my hip flask.  Conveniently, this causes the creatures that are following us to fight each other for a while, then lie down and drift into a stupor.  Juan, quaffing a dram of Benrinnes Vintage Reserve, says that he thought these kinds of creatures were like mermaids, and were extinct.  I say that they don’t look extinct, but add that mermaids aren’t extinct; they never existed in the first place.  Juan is surprised and says that he always thought they were real, in fact, he thought that, as long as it was the back half of a mermaid that was the fishy half, he would like to meet one.  

He first heard about them, he says, when he learned the English alphabet, and he folds his hands and recites one of Arthur Mees’s dreadful alphabet rhymes, until he reaches ‘M’,  ‘M is the Mermaid, that lives in the moat.  N is the nutshell, she has for a boat.’  However, I tell him that it’s just a rhyme, like ‘B is for bunny, tucked up in bed, C is the caterpillar, out of his head.’  The truth is, I tell Juan, that the bunny might not have been tucked up and the caterpillar might be extraordinarily sane.  Juan says that this proves that, if a poem isn’t written by Rabbie Burns, it’s not worth reading.  I entirely agree and, offering toast after toast to the great man’s memory, cheering and singing The Deil’s awa’ wi’ th’ Exciseman and A Man’s a Man for a’ That, at the top of our voices, we drag ourselves on through the Unknown Region, as fast as we possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary


Arthur’s rhyme

Missing lunch


.
Ripping open our bagpipes, we hold the bags above our heads, they expand into small, deafeningly noisy, parachutes, which slow our descent enough that, when we land in water, we are seriously injured, but no worse, Juan reminds me, than from the injuries received on Friday nights, when Morag, the enchantingly beautiful, but maniacally dangerous landlady, calls time, in the Cheeky Monkey, and throws everyone into the loch.  I agree that, compared to swimming across the loch and crawling across Perthshire, bamboozled, and bearing hideous wounds, finding our way across the Unknown Region will be easy and pleasant, and it would be nice to stop for lunch and enjoy the interesting scenery and unusual wildlife.  However, we are completely lost, uncertain of the time, sozzlingly behind schedule and, as Juan points out, we are very close to large creatures, not all of whom appear to be strictly vegetarian, so, as stopping for lunch means we will become lunch, shouting with excitement and yelling in pain, we desperately splash away from the approaching diners, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary 

Eoin

.
.
Collapsing through a door, to ask directions, we are very happy to see our old friend Eoin, from Gairloch.  Juan asks him what he is looking at, and Eoin says he is looking up Juan’s nose, and tells him to get out of the way.  Then he says he is looking at my beard and it’s disgusting and would I get out of the way, after some shuffling, Eoin insists that we are still in the way, but I point out that wherever we are, we are in the way.  “Quite” said Eoin, rather unkindly. The device, he explains, is a cornerscope, for looking around corners, some people say that you never know what’s around the next corner but, if the device works, this won’t be true.  I ask him what is around the next corner, but Eoin explains that, to work properly, it has to be linked to Logan’s clocks, and he shows us a plan of the system.  I say that, with modifications, it would make a sturdy train carriage, and Juan tells Eoin that, the last time we saw, Logan’s clocks had lost more than an hour.  Eoin says that this explains why the cornerscope is unsynchronised, and complains that, until Logan synchronizes his clocks, we were losing time and, he adds, it is very difficult to make up for lost time.

We sympathise, then, to make up for lost time, Juan opens a barrel of Vintage Pulteney and we drink toast after toast to the success of Eoin’s cornerscope and, telling Eoin that we are bloatingly behind schedule, we bumble out of the door, stagger around the first corner we come to, where Juan, bouncing off an unexpected fire hydrant, knocks me down a flight of stairs, fortunately, I slow my fall by grabbing Juan’s beard, unfortunately, Juan attempts to release my grip, by hitting me on the head with a bottle of Benrinnes Vintage Reserve, but the bottle, bouncing off my head, bounces down the stairs, rolls along a corridor and falls down a hatch. 

Screaming madly and chasing the bottle, we leap down the hatch then, realizing we have left the aircraft, we plummet down in silent surprise.  Then Juan shouts that, at least, we won’t have to listen to any more long-winded, insane, Scottish, scientists rambling about their broken equipment but, looking down, I yell that, judging by the landscape, Dirk’s time reversal machine is probably working.  Then Juan starts screaming that we have to catch the Benrinnes; in a desperate attempt to rescue the invaluable malt, we twist in the air and dive after the tumbling bottle. 

Rushing downwards, we remind each other that we don’t have parachutes so, when we catch the malt, we will need a good idea, but, before we can come up with a good idea, Juan swoops and snatches the bottle from the sky, tears the cork out with his teeth, then, throwing the bottle backwards and forwards, offering toast after toast to the health and happiness of the passengers and crew of The Lion, we tumble through the sky, screaming and yelling and flapping our arms, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


.

10.2.09

Logan

.
.

.
Still lost; fall through a door into a room, to ask directions, delighted to find Logan, from, Nairn, standing in front of a rack of clocks.  Juan asks him why he has so many clocks.  Logan explains that he made one clock, which was linked to Glen's measuring device, but one clock could go wrong, so he built another clock, however, the second clock appeared to be going very slightly slower than the first clock, so he made a third clock, to check the second clock against, but then he needed a fourth clock, to check the third clock, and things kept escalating from there, now, he says, all his time is taken up in building more clocks and checking them against each other and, to make matters more difficult, every time Dirk’s time reversal machine is switched on, all the clocks go backwards and he has to change them all again, which, he tells us, is an irksome job. 

Juan says that he understands, and launches into a story about when we were cleaning Big Ben’s clock in London, and shoved the little hand forward an hour, to get the job done quicker, then, I remind him, when we had finished the job, we put it two hours back, to claim the overtime.  The following day the clocks officially went back an hour anyway, because of British Summer Time, so it all worked out, we got the job done in seven hours and got paid for nine, so it was all very satisfactory and, because all the English clocks use Big Ben as a reference, nobody could say it was wrong. 

Suddenly there is a slight shimmering and we hear Bobby shouts “Oh no, it’s happening again!”  He asks us to stay and help adjust his clocks but we explain that we are perturbingly behind schedule and, opening a barrel of Glenfiddich, we offer toast after toast to Logan’s success and, tumbling backwards, we teeter on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

9.2.09

Ken


.
Tripping over a ledge, we crash through a door where we come across Ken, from Dumfries.  Ken is hovering near an interesting looking machine.  Juan asks what it is and Ken tells us that it links Angus’s pendulum with Dougal’s clock and uses the energy to power Dirk’s time deblender but, at the moment, it wasn’t working.  We tell Ken that Dougal smashed his clock and Angus, when we last saw him, was practicing ear rubbing and whisker twitching, for his part as Mrs Mouse, in the Buchanhaven Play.  Ken says that that isn’t the problem; the problem was that he didn’t know if the switch to turn the machine on went up or down.

 

I ask Ken to explain, again, what Dirk’s time deblender was meant to do, as Juan didn’t understand what Dirk was talking about.  Ken says that very few people understand what Dirk is talking about, which is why everyone is sure that he is a brilliant scientist.  Then, to explain Dirk’s machine, Ken asks us to imagine we are at the front of a speeding train.  Juan asks where, in the front, as he prefers to be in the bar, which could be in the middle of the train.  Ken says that it doesn’t matter where; we could be on top of the train, or under it.  I tell Ken that we’ve made too many journeys, hanging on to the top, or clinging to the underside, of trains.  Ken tells us that we could be in the train if we want, as long as we are at the front, now, he says; imagine we are galloping on horses, to the back of the train.  Juan tells Ken that the last time we did that, the passengers became overexcited and he would not want to do it again.  I remind Juan that it wasn’t the galloping horses that alarmed the passengers on the 7.17 a.m. from Dumfries to Buchanhavan, it was that Sally, Juan’s anaconda, had leapt out from under his vest and attached itself to a fat woman’s nose and it was that that frightened the passengers; and scared our horses into galloping.  Juan says that Sally wouldn’t have remained quietly asleep if I hadn’t fired a blunderbuss into the ceiling. 

 

When we have finished arguing, Ken asks us if we arrived at our destination early or late.  We tell him that we never arrived as Sally paid a visit to the driver’s cabin and the driver’s driving became erratic, so we jumped out.  Juan says that he thinks the driver ended up in Glasgow, kept the anaconda, whom he had befriended on the journey,  and joined a circus as Chuff, the world’s only Bearded, Greasy, Snake Dancer.  Ken says that doesn’t matter, the point is that we could have galloped up and down the train all day and it wouldn’t make much difference to our time of arrival, and this, he says, is why we can’t travel in time.  We are already travelling in time, Ken explains, which is why, when people try to travel in time, nothing much happens.  And Dirk’s time machine will prove it as, he tells us, as, if it works, nothing will happen.  Juan points out that nothing was happening anyway, but Ken says that that is because he didn’t know whether the switch to turn it on went up or down.  I say that there are two choices, up or down, and ask Ken why he doesn’t try them both.  But Ken says that he had thought of that but he had reasoned that there was a third choice, which was to not switch it up, or down, just to walk away from it an pursue his interest in Morag, the stunningly beautiful but violently dangerous proprietor of the Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy.  Juan reminds Ken that his previous advances to Morag had resulted in long spells in hospital.  However, Ken says that that is the choice he has to make and that, frankly, it is bewilderingly difficult to make the decision, which is why, he explains, he has been standing in front of the machine for nearly three years.  


Ken invites us to stay and keep him company while he makes his decision but we explain that we are barfishly behind schedule and, opening a barrel of Scapa Reserve toasting Ken, his machine, and wishing him the best of luck in making the right decision, we break into a wild Highland fling and, singing and shouting and cheering with excitement, we charge around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

 

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Glen


.
Bumbling through a door to ask directions, we are happy to bump into Glen, from Peterhead.  Glen is looking at an interesting piece of equipment and Juan asks him what it is.  He tells us that the device measures the accuracy of Dougal’s clock, and that it is accurate to four decimal places.  I tell Glen that, the last time we saw Dougal, he had smashed his clock to smithereens.  Glen sighs and says it is a shame that, although Dougal is a fantastically talented physicist and world-renowned chronogrammatist, he is so full of self-doubt and violence that he smashes all his experiments to pieces at the first opportunity.  This is why, Glen says, Dougal’s results have to be constantly checked. 

Juan says that Dougal’s clock is only accurate to three decimal places, and he asks how it can be checked to an accuracy of four decimal places.  Glen explains that the fourth decimal place can only be a number from zero to nine, so the machine adds the ten numbers up, and then it divides the result by ten, to find the average, so the fourth decimal point must be a four. He asks us if we would like to stay and watch the machine place a four in the fourth decimal place, as, he says, it will be a breakthrough in metronomy.  We take his word for it and, breaking open a barrel of Vintage Glenronach, we salute Glen’s wonderful machine.  Then, wishing him the best of luck and explaining that, owing to contumacious delays, we are sloomishly behind schedule, shouting and singing and bumping against hard objects, we blunder on, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

8.2.09

Dirk


.
Tumbling into a laboratory to ask directions, pleased and surprised to come across our old friend Dirk, from Buchanhavan. Juan says he thought everyone from Buchanhavan was called Angus. I ask Dirk what the machine does. Dirk tells Juan that Angus is his middle name, and he explains us that, as time is the same as malt, he was inspired by Wilhelm’s vatted malt deblending methods. Many single malts, which make up the past, merge together to form one blended malt, the present. His device simply reverses the process, singularising the blended present back to it’s original, unique singleness. I ask him what effect that has but he says that he doesn’t know yet as it requires a great deal of calibration before it can work. Juan said that some women are like that. Dirk explains that, before it can work properly; it has to be synchronised to Angus’s pendulum. Juan tells Dirk that, when we last saw him, Angus was trying to glue whiskers to his face, for the Buchanhaven Play. Dirk says that he knew Angus had landed the role of Mrs Mouse in the play, and had seen him scampering around the corridors and gnawing cables and, no doubt, he will be an inspired Mrs Mouse, but his negligence in measuring the swing of the pendulum was slowing down the research.

Dirk asks us if we would like to stay and watch him calibrate, we tell him it is all very interesting and that we would like to stay, but we have been schlepishly delayed so many times we are chronomaniacally behind schedule so, lifting our glasses, we salute Dirk’s wonderful efforts and weave our way onwards, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

7.2.09

Angus


.
Crashing through a door, we are delighted to bump into our old friend, Angus, from Buchanhaven.  Juan asks him why he’s looking at a pendulum; Angus says that he is trying to measure how fast it’s swinging.  I as him why, but he tells us that he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t care, that’s not part of his job, he says, he’s just doing the measuring and, frankly, he would rather be rehearsing for his part in the Buchanhaven Play, in which he is playing Mrs Mouse, a part to which, he says, his thespian forebears brought the dignity and nobility befitting the play, and an opportunity, he tells us, to perform the famous Happy Mouse Jig, introduced into the act by his great grandfather in eighteen forty-two.  With that, he drops on all fours and scampers away, squeaking. 

I remind Juan that Angus went nuts after being covered in the toxic seasoning in Juan’s bagpipes, when they exploded at Jock Black’s party.  Knowing what a serious effect this has on people, we both sympathise and, shouting after Angus, reassuring him that he’ll be a greatest Mrs Mouse ever to grace across the Buchanhaven stage, and drinking toast after toast to the success of his experiment, twirlingly befuddled and swingeingly behind schedule, we totter on, as fast as we possibly can.


Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Mount McKinley

.
.

.
No luck in finding the flight deck.  Looking out of a window, I tell Juan that it looks like we are about to crash on Mount McKinley.  This is irritating, as the mountain surrounded by glaciers and precipices.  It is normally be a lot of fun, walking across this beautiful terrain, but it can be slow, and we are declivitishly behind schedule.  Juan shrugs and says his civet is ticklish; but he doesn’t let that slow him down.  As he says this, we stumble through a door where we are delighted to find our old friend Dougal, our friend from Buchanhaven, twisting the dial of an interesting looking piece of equipment. 

We ask him what it is and Dougal says that it’s a sophisticated clock that he invented for measuring time accurately.  Juan points out that it doesn’t have any hands, so it can’t be that sophisticated.  Dougal gives him a dim look and hands us a diagram, which doesn’t make any sense and Juan says that he still can’t see any hands.  Dougal, looking a tad cross, explains that his theory is that, for navigation purposes, it is essential for time to be measured accurately, and that can only be done if a clock has thin, pointy, hands.  If it had large, round, hands, he says, you can only to tell the time in vague sort of way.  The problem, Dougal tells us, is primarily metallurgical, very thin, pointy hands on a clock tend to bend or break.  This machine, Dougal says, uses light beams instead of hands, and the light beams are so thin that the time can be measured to an accuracy of three decimal places.  We take his word for it, say what a good thing it is, offer him a dram from the latest batch of Juan’s Special Reserve, and drink to the success of Dougal’s his new clock, but he starts crying and tells us that it doesn’t work, in fact, he adds, hitting the top of it, it never worked.  Then he hits it on the side, and says that it probably never will work and all the years he spent on the thing were wasted, and then he kicks it across the room, shouting that he could have been an acrobat instead, then, crying and yelling that it is a piece of useless garbage, he stamps up and down on it until it’s a heap of broken junk. 

I remark to Juan that his latest batch of Special Reserve seems to be as potent as ever.  To celebrate, we open a fresh barrel and, toasting the beauty of Alaska, hurtling toward the highest mountain in the United States, shouting with excitement, crashing around in befuddled circles, punkishly behind schedule, we stagger on, to the flight deck, as fast as we possibly can

Professor Humperdink’s Diary