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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