Professor Humperdink III

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29.6.09

Leaving Castle Roy



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Returning to the bar, I tell Juan that everyone is fed up with him as he is spending too much time with Alexandra. He says that he doesn’t care, and adds that her fiancé is fool for not giving her enough attention. She is, moreover, the most beautiful woman in the world so, obviously, he can’t leave her alone. His case seems unarguable so, other than reminding him that we are we are scathingly behind schedule and, whatever his intentions towards Alexandra, he had better be quick, I don’t pursue the subject. However, we are both surprised when a cool, severe voice says, “And who is this ‘most beautiful woman in the world?’”, and Mahalath steps out from behind a rock, holding a sword.

We are both delighted to see her, especially as she has been testing aunt Humperdink’s flying machines, which is spectacularly dangerous. Before I can tell her that Juan claims that Alexandra is the most beautiful women in the world, Juan punches me in the stomach and I fall to the ground, retching. Juan starts to tell Mahalath how wonderful it is to see her, but she tells him to shut up, and adds she has been hearing rumours about Juan and Alexandra, and they had better not be true, she says, and looks, meaningfully, at her sword.

It occurs to me that, when Juan, Mahalath, Alexandra, and Alexandra’s fiancé all meet, there will be trouble and, as we are meant to be resting and recuperating, we should avoid the issue and leave Castle Roy immediately. However, as it turns out, the problem will not arise as Mahalath tells us that aunt Humperdink wants to meet us, in Aberfeldy.

This is wonderful news, Juan opens a barrel of his Special Reserve, to celebrate, and Mahalath quickly rounds up some horses and agents. It has been a lot of fun in Castle Roy and we are sorry to be leaving in such a hurry but, excited at the prospect of seeing aunt, we offer toast after toast to Highland hospitality, then, to hide our tracks from the people who owned the horses, we gallop down the ford, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

26.6.09

Back to the bar



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Rod, as a steward of aunt Humperdink’s club, is expected to break up brawls between guests, but the initial effects of drinking half a jug of Juan’s Special Reserve have not worn off, and he remains frozen, his brain an empty sporran.

Maulingly behind schedule, I take a short cut through the garden, where I spot two men, waving their swords around. I place Rod in between them, to keep them apart. However, it turns out that they are having a peaceable discussion about the best method of shining a blade. This is embarrassing and, to make it worse, before I can apologise, Juan turns up from nowhere and, thinking that there is a brawl in progress, attacks everyone in sight.

Surveying the carnage, we decide to sneak away. As Rod is still standing, we leave him behind. When he regains consciousness, Rod might have a bit of explaining to do, but he will not remember anything, and we will be in the clear. To celebrate a good decision, we open a barrel of Vintage Tamnavulin Private Reserve and, after offering toast after toast to all sword cleaners, we run back to the bar, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

24.6.09

Rod


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On the way to the west wing, I stumble on my old friend, Rod ‘Curly’ MacGregor, standing in front of a table, looking bewildered. Behind him, I recognise Harvey and Beadle, scientists who lurk around aunt Humperdink’s country clubs, hoping someone will invest in their research.

Harvey tells me that Rod just drank half a jug of Juan’s Special Reserve and seems to have seized up. I tell them that this is a normal reaction, as the taste of Juan’s Special Reserve is so shocking it temporarily paralyses the brain. Reassured, Beadle whispers into Harvey’s ear and I hear him say, “Tell him about the invention”, but, before Harvey can bore me with details of their latest project for which, no doubt, they need more funds, I tell them that I have to rush, as I am raggedly behind schedule, and explain that I don’t have any British money to give them. They say they do not mind what currency I have, but, looking in my bag, I can’t find any money at all.

At this news, Harvey and Beadle look disappointed, so I dig out a few of the stones that I picked up in aunt Humperdink’s mine. I explain that I have to keep the opal because I want to give it to Juan, who wants to give it Mahalath, but that they can have all the others. Harvey grabs the gems and shouts that that is exactly what they need and that I won’t be sorry. I tell them I am happy that my bag is lighter.

Beadle insists on providing inexhaustible details about the equipment they will buy for their project, and what they will do with it; courtesy forbids me from telling them what they can do with it. After a minute or two, I am pole-axed with boredom and, desperately seeking some form of escape, I grab the jug of Juan’s Special Reserve, yell ‘Slainte Mhath!’, throw the whisky down my neck, and follow Rod into happy oblivion, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

Maggie and Mary


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As I can’t find my way back to the bar, I wander around until I bump into someone who can help. Unfortunately, the first people I meet are my elderly step-sisters, Maggie and Mary, two royal pains in the posterior. Maggie, obviously displeased to see me, asks me what I’m doing here. I tell her that I’m looking for the bar, to catch up with Alexandra and Juan. Maggie tuts, in her superior, disapproving, manner and says, “Someone should take that despicable animal away.” For a second, I think that Maggie is talking about Jetsam, Mary’s noxious little dog, then I realise that she is talking about Juan. Mary tells me that Juan is spending a lot of time with Alexandra and, as Alexandra seems to be showing an undue interest in Juan, the whole family is distressed.

Maggie and Mary are interfering old bats who have nothing better to do with their time than worry about things that have nothing to do with them. I tell them that Alexandra is highly respectable and, as one of our top agents, she is fully capable of looking after herself and the family’s reputation will come to no harm. Maggie says that, when they were last seen, Alexandra and Juan were doing the Aberfeldy Jig under the crystal table in the west hall and, to make matters worse, members of the staff were cheering them on. I can see that this kind of behaviour might raise some eyebrows amongst certain, overly conservative, members of the family so, explaining that I have to rush, as I am catastrophically behind schedule, I assure the two old biddies that I would have a word with Juan, then, leaving them a case of Vintage Inchgower Private Reserve, to cheer them up, I stumble on to the west hall, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

19.6.09

Ted

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Aunt Humperdink’s country club bars are always a lot of fun and we continue the debate in a convivial atmosphere. After a few hours of lively discussion, stepping outside, to tend to my wounds, I bump into cousin Ted. He is looking pensive and, when I ask him what the problem is, he tells me that Alexandra is ignoring him. I tell him that this should not be a surprise; Alexandra is a woman of great refinement and intelligence, whereas Ted is a debauched moron, so there’s no reason, I point out, for Alexandra to give Ted any attention in the first place.

However, Ted complains that, to make it worse, Alexandra is spending all her time with Juan, and Juan is truly horrible. I explain that, although Juan is horrible, for some peculiar reason, women find him attractive. Ted says that that is simply because Juan showers them with gold and jewellery and builds palaces for them. I tell Ted that building and outfitting Juan’s palaces keeps thousands of people in business. But Ted says that he doesn’t care, and continues to sulk, so, leaving a case of Vintage Macduff Special Reserve, to cheer him up, I return to the bar, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

17.6.09

Alexandra


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On the way to the bar we bump into Alexandra. This is a very nice surprise; I introduce Juan to Alexandra, as this is the first time they have met. I am delighted to see her but, before we can catch up on the gossip, Juan throws himself at her feet and swears undying love. Alexandra, somewhat alarmed, tells Juan that, normally, people like to get to know each other before committing themselves to lifelong devotion. I explain to Alexandra that Juan is not normal but, in his defence, I add that we are dreggishly behind schedule and Juan has to act quickly. Leaving Juan pouring out his heart to the bemused princess, I arrange to meet them later, and call in to the library in the north wing, to ask directions.

I find that the library is empty and remember that, although aunt Humperdink’s libraries provide rare and wonderful books, the bars in aunt’s country clubs provide rare and wonderful single malts, which means that the club’s visitors and residents are more likely to be found in a bar than a library. Leaving the library, I pop my head into the club’s debating society where I find the parties involved in a lively debate regarding the merits of Vintage Tomatin, compared to the virtues of Vintage Blair Athol; I interrupt the discussion to ask for directions and tell them that Juan and Alexandra will be at the bar. As everybody is besotted with Alex and, as Juan owes everyone money, shouting and cheering with excitement, we race to the bar, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

15.6.09

Sir Larry


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We arrive at the castle and seek out our old friend, Sir Larry Lumpage, one of our top agents, and a senior member of the club. Larry is a great scholar and we find him in the east wing library, studying clan heraldry. Not wishing to disturb him, I write a note, telling him that we have arrived, and, although we are fatuously behind schedule, we will be staying for a few days, recuperating, and ask him to join us for a dram, when he has finished his studies.

After leaving the note, Juan declares that, as Scotch whisky and Highland women are essential for swift recuperation, we should find some, quickly. This is a good idea and, yelling and cheering with excitement, singing ‘Brig o' Perth’, ‘Calum Figheadair agus Calum Tàilear’ and ‘Be Kind to Auld Granny’, at the top of our voices, we head for the nearest bar, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

14.6.09

Castle Roy

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Lost and delapidatingly behind schedule, we wander in circles for several days until, spotting a building in the distance, we recognise Castle Roy, aunt Humperdink’s Perthshire country club. This is exciting as aunt’s chain of country clubs, used by agents for rest and recuperation, are always a lot of fun; to celebrate, we quickly break open barrels of Vintage Glendronach, Glencadam and Glenordie Private Reserve and, looking forward to a short rest and a great deal of recuperation, cheering and shouting with excitement, we stumble towards the castle, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

10.6.09

The chicks leave



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Because the chicks have little legs, and keep falling over, we progress in exceedingly short hops, with many stops. After many hours, the chicks still have not reached their parents and, because we are precariously behind schedule, I suggest that we leave the chicks, as they are slowing us down. Juan agrees, and adds that the chicks are probably some kind of chicken, the word ‘chick’, is a shortened version of 'chicken', he reasons, and chicks are short, and, he adds, if they were baby ducks they would be called ducklings, and if they were baby swans they would be called cygnets, and if they were baby owls they would be called owlets, but they aren’t, he insists, so they must be chickens. I tell Juan that I don’t know what he is talking about. He says that domestic fowl makes him nervous since, as a child, he spent his holidays at aunt Humperdink’s farm in Aberfeldy, where aunt’s chickens tried to steal his food, and now, he says, he doesn’t trust poultry.

As we are probably following chickens, and their trustworthiness is in doubt, we stop to discuss the problem. To help us think, Juan opens a barrel of Vintage Miltonduff, which we wash down with Balmenach Private Reserve. After some time, Juan says that, to help him think some more, he needs a chicken barbeque, that seems easy to arrange but, looking around, we can’t see the chicks and we realise that they are too far ahead for us to catch up.

Because we have lost track of the chicks, we decide to open a barrel of Vintage Tobermory, to help us consider the situation. To celebrate a good decision, we open a barrel of Vintage Glenburgie Special Reserve and, after offering toast after toast to the health, happiness and tastiness of all poultry, we flap around in panic-stricken circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

5.6.09

Chicks

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After hiding for a long time, I remind Juan that we are lost and fossilisingly behind schedule; we quickly fortify ourselves with Vintage Laphroaig, Glenfiddich and Balmenach Private Reserve, after several hours, although we haven’t progressed very far and are still lost, Juan finds two chicks and says that, if we can identify their species, we will know where we are.

Looking at them, I say that they aren’t penguin chicks, which is a relief, as that would mean we were too close to the South Pole for comfort. Juan, after inspecting them closely, says that they aren’t humming birds, and I point out that neither are they ostriches. I quickly sketch some more birds, but none of them matches the chicks. Trying to work out where we are with this information confuses us. Juan suggests that we follow the chicks; they will lead us to their parents, then, seeing the adult birds, we will be able to identify the species, and if, for example, it’s a bird that only lives in north Virginia, we will know exactly where we are. I agree and say that, although they may lead us a merry dance, it is a very good idea and, now, clapping, cheering and hopping with excitement, we follow chicks, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


3.6.09

To the Cheeky Monkey

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After searching for our platform for a week or so, we are very happy when we bump into our old friend Dr. Martin McWilliams, from Buchanhavan. Martin says that he is conducting some underground experiments for aunt Humperdink. We tell him that we are perniciously behind schedule and ask him to direct us to the platform, where we can catch the Angad Express, but Martin says that, as Bakulebe is driving the train, it doesn’t matter if we find the platform or not.

Bakulebe considers subterranean train driving to be particularly dangerous and approaches tunnels very slowly, with extreme caution, and, once in a tunnel, accelerates to maximum speed, in order to get out of the tunnel as quickly as possible. He will not slow down or stop, so passengers have to jump on to the speeding train as he passes. As the extra weight of passengers would slow Bakulebe down, he removes all steps and hand-rails, welds spikes in their place and coats the train with grease. We tell Martin that jumping aboard a spiky, greasy, speeding train is always a lot of fun, but remind him that Bakulebe has also had the train electrified and it constantly discharges deadly bolts of electricity. Martin says that that, once aboard, Bakulebe’s trains are famous for their luxuriance, but he understands our reluctance to attempt to board the train and he asks us if we would prefer to go directly to the Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy.

We tell him that, of course, we want to go the Cheeky Monkey. Martin shows us a door and tells us that it leads into a tunnel that runs directly under Aberfeldy. This is wonderful news and, to celebrate, we open a barrel of Juan’s Special Reserve, which Juan always keeps for such occasions. Wishing Dr. Martin the best of luck with his experiments, we offer toast after toast to all miners, then, cheering and shouting with excitement, we stagger through the door and into the tunnel. Juan says that, after all this time in a mine it will be nice to see the Birks of Aberfeldy, and the women of Aberfeldy who are, he claims, the most beautiful women in the world. I tell him that, at least, it is impossible to get lost in a tunnel and we will definitely arrive in Aberfeldy without any problem. However, when we emerge, it is obvious that we are not in Perthshire.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary