Professor Humperdink III

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Meeting Juan

After blundering around the desert for several days, I find Juan, surrounded by a swarm of locusts. Shouting over the buzzing of tens of thousands of insects, he tells me that the locusts are attracted by the smell of malt and that they are trying to break into his keg of Vintage Bladnoch Special Reserve. He adds that, although being covered in locusts is irritating, their presence is convenient as they do serve to conceal us. Picking locusts out of my beard, I ask Juan why we need to be concealed under a blanket of bugs, and he tells me that he is hiding from Mahalath. I want to point out that the North American authorities will be entirely fed up with us if we arrive in Colorado accompanied by a cloud of locusts, but, crawling with the things, all my attention is taken up with tearing the insects from my clothes and batting them away from my face. As discussion is impossible, wildly waving our arms around and spitting locusts in all directions, we head for Colorado, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


Haala, Kahina and Jabirah

The first thing I do, on entering Humperdinkazuq, is to visit my friends Haala, Kahina and Jabirah. They tell me that I just missed Juan. I tell them that I am very happy to have missed Juan. They tell me that he is on the way to Colorado but he also avoiding Mahalath. Mahalath, apparently, found Juan and Alexandra in a compromising position. Juan protested his innocence, claiming that he was only teaching Alexandra the basics of yoga, but Mahalath, who has heard Juan’s feeble excuses many times before, immediately attacked. Juan escaped, but has been on the run ever since. I tell the girls that this is typical of Mahalath and Juan’s tempestuous relationship, and, I point out, although Juan’s behaviour is atrocious, Mahalath is not a perfect example of fidelity. She claims that her numerous liaisons, and marriages, with intelligence chiefs, generals, ministers of state, presidents, princes and kings are all in the line of duty. As Mahalath is one of our top agents, I am sure this is true, but it does not explain her helpless attraction to celebrated theatrical personalities, famous artists, prize-winning scientists, top sportsmen, fit academics, practical mechanics and anything in a kilt.

Haala says that Juan only spent a few hours here, but that they did find the time for a game of chatur arigam. Haala’s family have been making chatur arigam pieces for generations and Kahina and Jabirah are the best chatur arigam players in the Desert of Angad. They tell me that Juan introduced them to a variation on the game, which none of them had ever heard of before, and proved to be a lot of fun. When they tell me this, I assume they mean that Juan showed them some of the more abstruse diagonal blocking moves created by our friend, Mustafa, the Yemeni chatur arigam master. However, it turns out that Juan’s variation consisted of everyone drinking a dram of whisky between moves, with a forfeit for any player who knocks a piece over. Hearing this I reflect, sadly, that it is typical of Juan to sully the majesty of chatur arigam and turn it from a game of pure, noble, intellect to a witless, debauched, drinking game.

I tell my friends that, on the way here, I saw a large bison and ask them if they know anything about it, but they say that I should ask Juan, as he is responsible; then I ask them for directions to Colorado and they tell me to join Juan as he is waiting for me in the desert, with a map and a horse. Although I can’t see much use in Juan, a map and a horse will be very useful. Explaining that I am cornishishly behind schedule, I leave Haala, Kahina and Jabirah a jug of Juan’s Special Reserve, to keep them merry, then, after drinking toast after toast to all chatur arigam champions, I wave goodbye and stumble back out into the desert, to join my idiotic comrade, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary



The road that leads to Humperdinkazuq is also, I discovered, the road that leads away from Humperdinkazuq. After travelling at high speed, in the wrong direction, my camel is exhausted, so, leaving the camel with a keg of Vintage Braes of Glenlivet, to help it recuperate, I walk back alone. Looking forward to seeing the lights and enjoying all the excitement and action of civilization, I make good progress and, after a few days, I am delighted to see Humperdinkazuq ahead. I notice, however, that, apart from the large bison, it doesn’t look quite as exciting as I imagined; nonetheless, to celebrate, I break open barrels of Vintage Auchentoshan, Miltonduff, Lochnagar and Tullibardine Private Reserve and, offering toast after toast to the health and happiness of all travellers to mysterious places, and singing ‘A Wee Drappie O't’, ‘My Bonnie Aberfeldy Lass’ and ‘Highland Mary’ at the top of my voice, I stagger towards Humperdinkazuq, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


The road to Humperdinkazuq

I discover that, as a method of navigation, following the sun is very easy, unfortunately, I suspect that we are travelling in the wrong direction. My suspicions are confirmed when I come across the road that leads to Humperdinkazuq, which is not in Colorado. This is disappointing, therefore, rather than to continue to rely upon solar navigation, I decide to go to the village and ask for directions. To celebrate a good decision, I break open the barrels of Vintage Bladnoch, Glen Scotia, Caperdonich and Macduff Special Reserve, which I keep for such occasions, then, bellowing with excitement, I spur my camel into a gallop and, singing ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘The Land of Light’ and ‘A Wee Drap o’ Whisky’, we lope along the road to Humperdinkazuq, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary


Good progress

After taming a wild camel, following my compass, we spiral inwards until, after revolving on the spot for a week, I remember that, because I played my bagpipes in aunt Humperdink’s mine, they must be full of cobalt dust, which attracts the compass needle. This is irritating. The compass is no use if it just points at my bagpipes and, without landmarks, in unmapped territory, I have to navigate by the stars.

In the northern hemisphere, Polaris, the Northern Star, stays in the same position and, generally, indicates north; however, from the Desert of Angad, I can’t see Polaris, and, as all the other stars are moving, celestial navigation is too difficult to bother with, so I travel by day, and, although I have to spend a lot of time dragging my idiotic camel away from attractive mirages, we make good progress. To celebrate, I break open the barrels of Vintage Cragganmore, Bowmore, Aberlour and Strathisla Special Reserve, which I keep for such occasions, then, blowing up my bagpipes and, offering toast after toast to all desert travellers and regaling my camel with ‘The White Heather Jig’, ‘The Aberfeldy Reel’, and ‘Morag of Moulin’, we head over the arid wastes of the Unknown Region, enthusiastically following our nearest star, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary