Professor Humperdink III

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28.4.09

Ashirbu’s mix


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Juan, stupidly, mislaid a flask of Vintage Pulteney Special Reserve, however, while searching for it, he found a pouch of Ashirbu’s smoking mixture. This is a very nice surprise and we immediately fill our pipes with Ashirbu’s extraordinary mix, the inhalation of which results in our spending a few days under the impression that we are kingfishers.  

Now, realising that we are facinorously behind schedule, we decide that we can’t wait for the train any longer, so, singing and dancing and whistling ‘chi-keee’, we jump around in circles, flapping our arms, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

25.4.09

Chairs and cups

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After drinking toast after toast to dirk makers and saluting the nobility of the claymore, we decide that, as it is too hot to continue fighting, to wait until nightfall before taking up arms again.  Taking advantage of this break in the proceedings, we open a barrel of Duff’s Defiance Founder’s Reserve, for inspiration, and sketch some more waiting room chairs.  Although I think my chairs are wonderful, Juan considers his chairs to be perfect, and we still can’t agree on a final design.  

Before resuming combat, Juan points out that, in the great scheme of things, waiting room chairs are relatively insignificant and we should concentrate on making more vital equipment, such as drinking vessels for, when people are waiting for an interminably delayed train, having a decent drink is more important than the comfort, or otherwise, of the chairs.  Accordingly, we quickly twist our dirks and daggers into cup shapes, and test them out with Vintage Aberfeldy Special Reserve.  The cups work wonderfully, but, when it comes to returning to the fight, we don’t have a dirk between us and, after bashing each other with cups for a few hours, we realize that drinking utensils make inadequate weapons and, reluctantly, we call a truce. It goes against our natures to stop a good fight before its conclusion so, to cheer ourselves up, Juan opens a barrel of Vintage Highland Park Private Reserve and we spend the rest of the night singing and dancing and careening around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

22.4.09

Bad seats

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I tell Juan that the chair he designed for the waiting room is an over-ornamented piece of junk.  He protests, saying that waiting for a train can be a bleak experience and a little ornamentation cheers people up.  He adds that my waiting room stool is not much better than a lump of wood, I point out that the seats on the train are likely to be equally uncomfortable but, sitting on the stool, by the time it arrives, the passengers will be used to discomfort.  Juan says that designing uncomfortable furniture is insane; I tell him that the English have been doing it for years; in fact, it’s a feature of their furniture.  After sketching more chairs, and disagreeing more and more violently over the final design, we settle the issue in the time honoured Highland fashion, by having a taich tulzie.

This is an indoor scuffle, rather than a fight to the death, which, to maintain a convivial atmosphere in Highland public houses, is traditionally reserved for outdoors, but, as we haven’t built the waiting room, we don’t have an indoors to scuffle in.  As we are outdoors, and humungously behind schedule, our only option is to sketch a bench, which can be placed in a convenient place, in case we both lose, then, opening barrels of Vintage Bowmore, Cragganmore, Brackla and Caperdonich Special Reserve, to fortify ourselves for the fight, offering toast after toast to the spirit of the battle, hollering with excitement and yelling the Highland war cry, we engage in mortal combat, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


19.4.09

More plans


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In the flaring heat of the desert, waiting for our train, which is belligerently behind schedule, we cool ourselves down with Vintage Interleven, Ardmore and Glenfarclas Private Reserve and put the final touches to our waiting room plans.  

To fortify ourselves, for the construction work, Juan breaks open a barrel of his Special Reserve and we drink toast after toast to all the people who will enjoy waiting in our wonderful waiting room.  However, before starting to build, I point out that we don’t have any furniture, and an unfurnished waiting room is a miserable thing.  This requires more plans so we open a barrel of Vintage Single Cask Glen Scotia Reserve, for inspiration, then, bellowing with enthusiasm and singing ‘The Ruffian’s Rant’ and ‘I need a Lass at Martinmas’, we jig around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

17.4.09

Waiting room plan



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Although it is wonderful to be in the desert, our train is woefully behind schedule and, in the harsh conditions, we urgently need to start work on our waiting room.  Pleasingly, looking at our design, we can see that it will be the grandest waiting room we have ever built.  To celebrate, Juan breaks open barrels of Vintage Lochnagar, Glenesk, Linkwood and Clynelish Special Reserve.  For extra sustenance, as we have a big job ahead of us, using one of the energising recipes recommended by my old opal-hunting companion, he mashes nurth seeds into Glentauchers Private Reserve, topping it with a sprinkling of Devonian star shavings.  The energy in the seeds, together with whatever it is in the shavings, combine to make a brew that gives us more energy than we know what to with and, foaming with excitement, we blow up our bagpipes and gallop in circles, shouting and screaming and playing the Highland Quickstep as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

16.4.09

Waiting room columns



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During the chilling desert nights, we keep ourselves warm with Vintage Glen Spey, Interleven, and Single Grain Lochnagar.  During the flaying heat of the day, we keep cool with Vintage Glenlossie, Ardbeg and Duff’s Defiance Founders Reserve.  To conserve supplies, during twilight, we stick to Juan’s Special Reserve.  However, the harsh climate of the desert means that our supplies are rapidly diminishing and, with our train covinously behind schedule, we continue to design a much-needed, commodious, waiting room. 

Juan insists on Corinthian columns, but I think they are too stern for a waiting room and recommend Ionian columns.  After a long brawl, we decide to compromise and use Doric columns; to celebrate settling the argument, and looking forward to seeing our beautifully columned waiting room, when it’s built, we break open barrels of Vintage Bladnoch, Knockdhu and Glenturret Private Reserve and, after drinking toast after toast to all Greek architects, and saluting everyone who appreciates a well designed waiting room, we pudder around in confusion, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

14.4.09

Planning the waiting room

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Exposed to the scorching desert days and freezing desert nights, waiting for a condemnatorily late train, we urgently need to build a comfortable waiting room.  We sketch some plans, but, before we start building, Juan, rummaging in his breeches, finds a flask of Vintage Braes of Glenlivet Special Reserve and shouts halleluiah.  I point out that some Christians think it is disrespectful to use that word at this time of year.  Juan says that, as he’s not a Christian, it doesn’t matter, and that any deity that condemns enthusiastic praise for the God-given ability to appreciate Vintage Glenlivet is an odd, miserable, God who should be ignored.  I say that I didn’t think the ultimate creator was particularly bothered, but, I remind Juan, this is Easter time so, to make up for any disrespect Juan may have shown, we break open barrels of Vintage Knockando, Glen Moray, Caol lla, Braes of Glenlivet, Fettercairn and Caperdonich Private Reserve and spend the weekend wildly celebrating.

Now, looking forward to starting building the waiting room, but savagely sick and undefeasibly behind schedule, we drag ourselves around in puzzled circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

10.4.09

Widdled fiddles

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In the blasting heat of the desert, with our train corsnedishly behind schedule, our absolute priority is to build a comfortable shelter, as a waiting room.  We decide to begin building immediately and, to celebrate a good decision, we break open barrels of Vintage Aultmore, Linkwood, Talisker and Allt a Bhainne Private Reserve and, after offering toast after toast to everyone who has had to wait for a train, Juan lies down and makes another attempt at writing this year’s edition of his memoirs and, remembering that my annual recital is coming up, I look for Tiddles, to help make some fiddles. 

Normally, I only perform recitals with a Stradivarius; however, having smashed the last three, people are reluctant to lend me another one.  Some inexperienced desert travellers say that good wood can be hard to find, however, it is a basic survival skill to carry enough wood to make a decent instrument.  I dig some planks from my bag, knock together some fiddles, and play one for Juan.  He listens for a few seconds but, as the tune progress, he loses interest and returns to his writing.  When I have finished, and ask him his opinion, he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  I remember that this is the reaction most people have to hearing any of the pointless etudes by the useless Fernando Carulli and, throwing the fiddle away, I pick up another one and play Paganini's Caprice no. 24.  Juan says it sounds flat.  I explain that, as I couldn’t find Tiddles, I didn’t have any catgut for the strings and had to use old bootlaces. 

Chucking that fiddle away, I pick up another one and bash out Ravel’s ‘Tzigane’.  It sounds wonderful, but Juan says it stinks.  I protest, saying that it was sublime; Juan agrees that the music was angelic, but the fiddle smells like rancid cat’s vomit.  I explain that Antonio deliberately refused to house train his pets, and kept wood in his bedroom for three years before making a fiddle as, during that time, the wood was liberally doused with the excretions of Giorgio, Enrico and Consolata, Antonio’s three cats.  Antonio claimed that Enrico’s various discharges and Consolata and Enrico’s tiddles gave an unmatchable quality to his fiddles, and often said that he only varnished the instruments to cover the stench: as my planks come from Antonio’s amazingly stained bedroom floor, the tone it produces is glorious, but the odour emitted is hellish.  Hurling that fiddle away, I grab another instrument and belt out the Rannoch Reel, Juan brightens up, blows up his bagpipes and, now, blasting ‘Twa Recruitin' Sergeants’ and ‘Hielan Laddie’ into the flaming desert air, we blunder around in noisesome, sickening, circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary



7.4.09

Fashionable Cladactis

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Juan keeps complaining that he didn’t have a present to give Mahalath, I say it is the thought that counts and he could have given her anything and she would have been pleased.  He says I am probably right as I gave her a jellyfish and she seemed happy.  I tell him that it wasn’t a jellyfish; it was an anemone, which, as it doesn’t sting, is a much better pet than a jellyfish. Producing another anemone from my bag, I remind Juan that the anemone is an inspiration to fashion designers all over the world.  Juan mocks my Margined Cladactis, saying that, while it might have inspired our friend Dondu, chief designer for the Bondu and, no doubt, it is popular amongst the Leopard Men of Konbundu, Jimi and Bo, but the anemone look is hardly fashionable in Paris, Rome, New York or Aberfeldy and, when it comes to fashion, nowhere else matters.  

I think that, in this instance, Juan is probably right so, after snacking on the cladactis, I remind him that our train is lethferously behind schedule, and, as we are in the middle of a desert, we urgently need to build a comfortable waiting room.  With this in mind, we immediately raise our flasks of Vintage Springbank, Lochside, Glenburgie and Balvenie Private Reserve then, drinking toast after toast to all fashion designers, we dodder around in muddled circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

6.4.09

Milton’s last picture


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Juan thinks that we will have a long wait for the train and, opening a barrel of Allt a Bhainne, for inspiration, he settles down to work on this year’s editions of his memoirs. A few seconds later, he throws his quill away and shouts that it’s no use, he can’t remember anything. I remind him that, as millions of women are waiting to read this year’s edition of his memoirs, he should try to write something, even if he makes it up, he snarls that, if he wanted to write fiction, he’d become a poet, and adds that his readers are sophisticated ladies of leisure and expect to read insightful gossip from the court, rather than uninformative meanderings about gusty camels.

I say that there must be something more interesting to write about and, digging into my bag, I find some photographs and give one of them to Juan, hoping it will jog his memory. He looks at it for a long time and then says that he vaguely remembers one of our friends, Milton Macduff, from Buchanhaven, taking photographs of the young men dancing in Doa. I remind Juan that Milton, unfortunately, forgot that Yafouba men don’t like being photographed, which is why they ate him. Join says that that is very sad, but stupid, and would hardly interest his readers. Looking for something else, more interesting, I hand Juan pictures of Humperdinkestine but, shuffling through them, he says that, as they don’t contain pictures of Mahalath doing the dance of the seven veils, they aren’t worth looking at. I agree, but, unable to think of anything else interesting to offer, I open barrels of Vintage Macduff, Miltonduff and Duff’s Defiance Private Reserve and offer toast after toast to the adventurous, if foolhardy, spirit of Milton, then, with our train lentorishly behind schedule, we blow up our bagpipes and, marking time and playing ‘Duff’s Lament’ and ‘Duff Doon the Hatch’ we revolve on the spot, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

5.4.09

Leaving Finedrawer


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I tell Mahalath about the plight of my students and ask if we can fly to the Unknown Region, to rescue them, but Mahalath explains that, before rescuing the students, she has to test the new experimental engine in Finedrawer.  Juan says that the tests we have carried out on experimental engines recently have proved to be disastrous, but Mahalath says that trial and error is the road to achievement, and a calamitous history should not prove a hindrance to future success.  I say that this means there is some hope for Juan and, to celebrate, he breaks open barrels of Vintage Glenordie, Tamnavulin, Auchroisk and Glendullan Private Reserve then, drinking to a successful test, we ask Mahalath if she would drop us off as, despite her enthusiasm, we think the experimental engine will explode and, already barfully delayed and defatigationally behind schedule, it would be safer and quicker to catch a train.  Mahalath orders barrels of malt to be unloaded then, wishing us the best of luck, sets us back down onto the opalescent desert, where, quickly breaking open a barrel of Vintage Speyburn Reserve, we drink toast after toast to the crew of Finedrawer and wave and holler our goodbyes as Mahalath floats into the shimmering sky.

After Finedrawer has vanished over the horizon, we scrabble around in the sand until we find the configuration of pebbles that is the sign of a clandestine train station, operated by the Special Train Service. Juan points out that, as a train is probably not due for some time, we should build a comfortable waiting room.  This would be ideal and, to celebrate a good idea, we break open a barrel of Juan’s Special Reserve and spend all day singing and dancing and playing with pebbles.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

4.4.09

Kathleen

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On board Finedrawer, Mahalath tells us that, after she was rescued by Jock, aunt Humperdink sent the Finedrawer to pick them up, but Jock decided to walk back to Aberfeldy, as he claims that flying isn’t natural, except in the instance of the Flying Scotsman, the train, or the Flying Scotsman, the bar in Perth, neither of which fly, which, he says, proves his point.  Juan apologises to Mahalath for not rescuing her, and for not having any opals for her birthday present, and I offer her an opelet, to make up for it.  Mahalath is very gracious and says that a wet, cold, slimy, anemone is something she always wanted, and adds that, had we attempted to rescue her; it would certainly have been calamitous, whereas Jock, who is a professional, rescued her without actually causing a war.  We immediately open barrels of Vintage Blair Athol, Tomatin, Macduff and Inchgower Special Reserve, to celebrate. 

After saluting Jock’s success and offering toast after toast to Mahalath and the crew of Finedrawer, I stagger to the telegraph room, to send a message to my students, whom I abandoned in the Unknown Region in the Desert of Angad.  Blundering through a likely looking door, I am delighted to find my old friend Kathleen, from Buchanhaven.  I ask Kathleen to tell the students that I am malenginitally behind schedule, and, knowing they must be in a terrible condition, to wish them the best of luck.  As Kathleen and I have a lot to catch up on, we share flasks of Juan’s Special Reserve and become engrossed in slander, mean-minded speculation, ill-informed opinions and the general delights of a good gossip.  After tossing and goring the personalities and reputations of our friends, we drink to their health, happiness and success and, hoping they have better things to say about us than we have to say about them, we link arms and, wildly singing ‘The Buchanhaven Bride’, we reel around the room, dancing to ‘To Kirk, to Kirk, wi’ a Mousie in ma Bonnet’, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

2.4.09

Pebbles for Mahalath




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Stumbling toward Finedrawer, Juan worries that Mahalath is going to be cross because she had to wait a long time for us to rescue her, and then we didn’t.  He adds that, to make it worse it’s her birthday, and he doesn’t have a suitable present, which will make her crosser.  I suggest he dedicate this year’s edition of his memoirs to Mahalath, for her lively spirit, but he says that, as nothing of interest has happened, he hasn’t written anything.  I ask him why, as he lacks material, he doesn’t just make something up.  He snaps that, if he wanted to write fiction, he would become a historian and, besides, his readers only expect salacious tales from high society and have no interest in experimental aircraft or flatulent camels.  Mentioning high society, Juan reminds me that Mahalath enjoys wearing shiny jewellery, and has a particular fondness for opals.  Realising that we are in the middle of a desert, littered with things, we immediately dive to the ground and scrabble around in a frenzy. 

Unfortunately, although we find some quartzy looking stones, we can’t tell one from another, and, as giving Mahalath a worthless heap of pebbles is a bad idea, we throw them away and, after quaffing a flask of Juan’s Special Reserve, to get over our disappointment, I remind Juan that we gneissishly behind schedule, and, blowing up our bagpipes and playing ‘The Kelpie’s Jig’ and ‘The Dance of the Duffers of Dull’ we blunder on, across the shining sand, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Mahmud and Almaz

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Noticing a peculiarly unpleasant smell on the wind, we realise that our old friend Mahmud and Almaz, his flatulent camel, must be close by.  Spotting them on a nearby dune, we remember that Mahmud, one of our top agents, is an expert in the area and, although we would rather avoid the stench of Almaz, I remind Juan that, as we are lost and rantipolishly behind schedule, we have to ask Mahmud for directions.  To drown the awful smell coming from Almaz’s behind, we soak our beards in Vintage Allt a Bhainne, Tamnavulin, Glen Spey and Springbank Special Reserve, immediately wringing the beards into our upturned mouths to ensure that not a precious drop is wasted.

Shortly afterward, Juan, demonstrating a Pictish jig, danced backward into quicksand.  It is sensible, in quicksand, to stay calm and relaxed and move very slowly.  Unfortunately, because, in falling, Juan dropped his Vintage Tomore Founders Reserve hip flask into the sucking maw of the mire, he screams and threshes around, desperately trying to save the invaluable malt.  I wave to Mahmud, shouting that he should bring Almaz, to pull Juan from the quicksand, but, receiving no response, I remember that Mahmud is deaf and blind and Almaz is an idle, vile tempered beast, who would not help anyway.

Considering the nature of quicksand, and the risk of becoming a petrosomatoglyph, I am reluctant to help, however, the loss of such fine Scotch is enough to make a Highlander chew on his trews in distress, and so I leap into the quicksand, and flail about in a panic.  Fortunately, just before permanently sinking into the sand, Juan finds the flask.  To celebrate, we share the Vintage Tomore and topping it up from our flasks of Vintage Rossbank, Balmenach and Auchentoshan Private Reserve, we slowly drink toast after toast to all our friends and using our bagpipes as flotation tanks, we creep through the sandy sludge, shouting and singing and playing ‘Gala Water’ and ‘Thanks to the Lass of Unthank’, until, reaching firm ground and holding our noses tightly and breathing through our beards, we approach Mahmud. 

Juan, against a background of long, drawn-out belches from Almaz, punctuated by noisome, empyreumatic farts, screams into Mahmud’s ear, asking him how he is, and if he has anything to report.  Mahmud tells us that he is perfectly fine but that, having been blind for years, he hasn’t seen anything recently.  I look around and shout that he’s not missing anything.  He adds that, being deaf, he hasn’t heard anything much either and, as his nasal passages have dried out, he has no sense of smell, so he hasn’t smelt anything either, I yell that he’s lucky, as his camel is rancid.  Juan yells that we are lost and dithyrambically behind schedule, Mahmud points over the desert and says that Mahalath is over the next sand dune, on board Finedrawer, one of aunt Humperdink’s experimental aircraft.  Bawling our thanks, and stopping only long enough to share our Vintage Glen Scotia, Interleven, Talisker and Macduff Single Grain Special Reserve with our watchful friend, we wave goodbye, somewhat futilely, and stagger on, cheering and hallooing with excitement, over the blistering sands, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary