Professor Humperdink III
Captain 'Fatty' Farquhar's abilities as a captain have yet to be established, but there is no question that his talents as a baker, biscuit designer, and enthusiastically generous host, are unsurpassed. On the first morning on board The Lion, Fatty took us to every kitchen and bar on the first deck. In the kitchens, he insisted that we try his jellies and pastries and biscuits, all seasoned with lashings of Scotch, Fatty says that they are hugely popular with the crew. The Lion is a rescue ship and, in order to aid recovery, aunt Humperdink insists that the ship holds a vast range of vintage single malts, which, during the afternoon, we sample in the bars on the second deck.
We spent the evening in the casino on the third deck, Juan lost a large chunk of Lithuania, a South American republic and a palace in Russia. He protested that his losses were meaningless as the republic was nasty, Lithuania was bankrupt, and the palace was freezing. I said that he should know, as, with the help of Mahalath and Bakulebe, he stole Lithuania's gold reserves and, I remind him, the republic is a dangerous shambles because he was a terrible president who ignored the needs of the country in favour of holding feasts, attending parties and building palaces. This is unfair, Juan yells, kicking over the roulette table, he was surrounded by beautiful, hot-blooded, Latin American women, what was he meant to do? How could he attend to matters of state, he shouts, while attending to Maria, Rosana, Gabriella, Luisa, Clorinda, Eliane, Dayana, Kina and Conchita. We ignore his stupid protests and drag him down to the senior officer's club on the fourth deck where we break open a barrel of Vintage Aultmore Private Reserve then, after offering toast after toast to Captain Fatty's numismatologically inspired biscuit making machine, which produces coin shaped biscuits, we fall down a shaft where we break open a keg of Vintage Balvenie Single Grain Family Reserve and drink to the wonderful engineering of the pot stills that Fatty has had installed on the fifth deck. The Lion spends much of the year on missions, Fatty explains, and, if they are away from base for too long, there might be the instance of there being a shortage of vintage single malt, however, this problem is surmounted by maintaining a constant distillation process, ensuring a continuous supply of malt, however long the mission. It is this kind of forethought, and consideration for the crew, Juan pronounces, opening a keg of Vintage Inchgower Private Reserve, that makes a captain a great captain. I agree and, raising our mugs and saluting the wonderful career Captain Fatty is sure to have, we fall down a stairwell to the sixth deck.
On the way to the Brassy Chimp, a bar on the sixth deck, dedicated to the spirit of the Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy, Fatty shows us the new chocolate mixer which blends equal amounts of milk, vintage single malt whisky and chocolate liquor to form an intoxicatingly delightful chocolate filling for Fatty's éclairs and cakes which, Fatty boasts, are proving to be a great hit with the crew. In the Brassy Chimp we are delighted to make the acquantance of the proprietress, Megan, the younger sister of Morag, the bewitchingly attractive but trigger-happy landlady of The Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy. Megan is as beautiful as Morag and, when Juan makes an inappropriate remark and he finds himself pinned to the wall with a dirk, proves she is at least as dangerous as her elder sister. After Juan apologises, Megan serves us Vintage Duff's Defiance Special Reserve, after which, while dancing the Highland Fling, we spin out of the bar and tumble down a flight of stairs to the seventh deck were Fatty takes us to the Seventh Heaven, one of several new restaurants Fatty has recently opened on this deck where, after being presented with yet more cake, and a barrel of Vintage Pulteney Founders Reserve, we raise our glasses and salute Fatty's genius then, linking arms and singing 'Johnnie Cope', 'The Soldier's Return' and 'The Lass O' Boltachan' at the top of our voices, we fall through an inspection panel to the eighth deck, Fatty immediately heads for 'Ate Well', the eighth deck's scientist's canteen, where he stuffs us with more pastries and Juan, to celebrate, opens a barrel of his Special Reserve. After I accidentally start a brawl with a group of industrial chemists over the specific gravity of Glenturret Private Reserve, and Juan, to help, tries to shove a hydrometer up Professor MacBlaine's nose, Fatty drags us out of the canteen and along a corridor where, within seconds, we fall down a ventilation shaft to the ninth deck.
We proceed in this fashion through another twenty or thirty decks but the details are fuzzy. Eventually, I do recall, I remind Fatty and Juan that we are veneficuously behind schedule. Fatty says that he has to stay in the area as The Lion is on a rescue mission, but he suggests that we take one of The Lion's experimental reconnaissance balloons and catch a fast, high altitude, northerly wind, back to Aberfeldy. This is a wonderful idea and, after opening a keg of Vintage Glencadam Special Reserve and after thanking Fatty for his hospitality and, after offering toast after toast to his continued good health, as he definitely needs it, we immediately deploy the balloon and, waving goodbye and yelling with fear, we launch ourselves into the sky to find that, with all the pies, cakes, éclairs and buns we have eaten, we are too heavy for the balloon and, rather than float upward, and over, the mountain range stretched below us, the balloon plummets straight down. This is irritating but, as Juan points out, opening a cask of Vintage Blair Athol Family Reserve, hiking over a mountain range is wonderful exercise and, if we survive the crash, we will quickly walk off all the extra weight we have put on, then, when we are lighter, we can use the balloon again. This is true and, to celebrate, we raise out flasks and salute the valour of Captain 'Fatty' Farquhar Cardno and the indomitable crew of The Lion, then, screaming in terror and vomiting in all directions, we spiral downward through the freezing air in crazed, corybantic, circles, plummeting toward the jagged peaks, rather sorry to have left The Lion, but looking forward to landing safely and getting back to Aberfeldy, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink's Diary
We are delighted to discover that the new captain of The Lion is our old friend, Captain 'Fatty' Farquhar Cardno, from Buchanhavan. Farquhar is a master baker and renowned biscuit designer, so we are surprised to see him in command of a fabulously expensive, experimental, ultra secret, Agency rescue craft. Fatty says that he is equally surprised and he thinks there must be some mistake because, as a biscuit maker, he doesn't know the first thing about being the captain of a skulk ship, but Juan says that The Lion is an experimental vessel, so the Captain and crew of the ship are experimental as well. Fatty says that he doesn't want to be an experimental captain, he just wants to make biscuits, and I remind him that aunt Humperdink always selects the right person for the job, so he should have more confidence.
Juan asks Fatty where the nearest bar is and I ask him if The Lion's new experimental engine works. Fatty says that he doesn't know if the engine works, or what it does, or where it is, but he does lead us to the nearest bar and, on the way, he shows us the recently installed dough mixing machine, which he commissioned as, he says, it is necessary for the production of aunt Humperdink's new 'Highland Malt' biscuits which, with their ingredients including Vintage Tobermory, Rossbank, Tomatin and Highland Park Private Reserve, are proving very popular with the crew.
To celebrate the success of the new biscuits, and to congratulate Fatty on his promotion, Juan breaks open a barrel of his Special Reserve and we offer toast after toast to the health and happiness of all captains and bakers, then, stuffing our faces with biscuits, coughing and spluttering with excitement, we link arms and, falling down ladders, bouncing off bulkheads, and singing 'My Heart is sair for an Aberfeldy Tart', we stagger to the bar, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink's Diary
After running across the desert for a day or two, I ask Juan to check the map, to see where we are. He takes a ragged, crumpled, stained, map from his bag, tries to flatten it, wipes off some the filth, then looks at the map for a long time, then he turns it sideways and stares at it, in a puzzled fashion, finally turning it upside down and, after staring at it some more, informs me that he has no idea where we are. Peering over his shoulder, I can see that it won’t help us get to Aberfeldy. It is exasperating, and typical of Juan’s idiocy, that, when all we need is a simple map of the world, he produces a map that seems to be of another planet entirely.
We stop, to consider the situation. To assist our considerations, we open kegs of Vintage Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Tomintoul and Scapa Special Reserve and, between offering toast after toast to the well-being of everyone lost in barren wastes, Juan reminds me that, if we were at sea, our best advice would be to stay with the ship, if we had a ship, and he recommends that we follow the same policy here. Before leaving the canyon, I cut and sewed some rags and formed a piece of material that, to the casual observer, would appear only to be a roughly-made quilt, but, torn and crumpled in a particular fashion, would reveal a message that could be understood by aunt Humperdink’s Agent Rescue Service. I left the quilt behind and I am sure that, by now, it will have been found, so there is no particular need to worry, but I do point out that we are not at sea, and that we don't have a ship, but Juan says that there's one in the sky. I go to some lengths to explain to him, with diagrams, that the large vessel he can see floating in the sky is just a common mirage, but then I look up and, floating towards us, I see aunt Humperdink's experimental skulk ship, The Lion.
This is a wonderful sight, my quilt must have been found, and the message deciphered, then, when it was discovered that we weren't in the Cheeky Monkey, The Lion came to search for us. The desert is very beautiful, and walking for hundreds of miles over inhospitable reaches of blistering sand is very good exercise, however, we are criminally behind schedule, travelling in The Lion will be a lot faster than hiking over the empty wastes and, as the ship contains at least seventeen excellent bars, a good deal more fun. We raise out mugs, salute farewell to the majestic serenity of this mighty desert with hearty swigs of Vintage Longmorn, Oban, Benrinnes and Glenordie Private Reserve, then, to attract The Lion's attention, we wave our arms around and, screaming and yelling with excitement, we stumble around in befuddled, shaky, circles, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink’s Diary
Arrive at a grand canyon. We are not sure if it is the
Grand Canyon, in which case we are in the right place, or another grand canyon, in which case we don't know where we are. However, whatever it is called, the canyon is a sight of such grandeur that we celebrate by breaking open barrels of Vintage Glenmorangie, , Interleven and Caperdonich Special Reserve. After drinking to the magnificence of nature, we blow up our bagpipes and try to play 'Where the Columbines Grow' but, not only do we not know the tune but, after crossing the desert, our bagpipes are full of grit, the drones are chocked with sand and the reeds are damaged. Ardmore
As all soldiers know, it is imperative that weapons are kept clean and in good condition, the Phìob Mhòr, the Great Highland Bagpipe, is no exception. Practitioners of Ryūkyū Kobujutsu make a point of polishing their nunchaku before battle, before they cut their own heads off, Samurai Warriors shine their swords up until they gleam, and even the Vikings, who are not famous for their cleanliness, dipped their axes in blood from time to time, to keep them oily. The Great Highland Bagpipe, in the hands of a Highlander, is a lethal close assault weapon and the noise it makes, even from a distance, is terrifying, but, for maximum effect, it needs proper maintenance.
Cleaning the bagpipes takes several days and, irritatingly, we cannot complete the job as, in the heat of the day, our wax melts. Juan insists that the only wax to use, when hemping a reed, is the earwax from a
Highland otter, preferably from Loch Carron. On this point, I agree. Aunt Humperdink hasn't contacted us, which means that she has gone on ahead, so we decide to return to Perthshire, where we can finish cleaning the bagpipes, and await further instructions in the Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy. This is an excellent decision. To celebrate, Juan breaks open the barrel of his Special Reserve, which he keeps for such occasions, and, although we are very sorry to be leaving such a grand canyon, we are impatient to be back in Scotland and, after offering toast after toast to the grandness of the canyon, we bellow Sinkiuse war cries at the top of our voices, charge, somewhat unsteadily, back into the blistering desert sands, and head for the Highlands, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink's Diary
While Juan and I were arguing about the best way to cook a horse, the horse ran away. This was serious as the horse was hitched to Juan's keg of Vintage Bladnoch Special Reserve, which was attracting the attention of a swarm of locusts. Seeing the horse galloping away, dragging the precious whisky into the desert, Juan wailed that the horse had stolen the whisky but, although the despair occasioned by loss of vintage single malt is enough to make a Highlander give up tossing the caber, we are both pleased that the locusts follow the horse and, no longer covered in a mass of insects, we can see where we are going. We also see a buffalo.
Juan says that this is a sure sign that we are in the
. To celebrate, we break open kegs of Vintage Linkwood, Strathisla, Cardhu and Clynelish Special Reserve then, reminding ourselves that we are farcically behind schedule, yelling with with excitement, and singing 'O Willie Brew'd a Peck o' Maut, ’Aikendrum’ and 'An Aberfeldy Lassie Stole my Heart and Sporran', we stagger on, tottering over the sand-strewn plains, as fast as we possibly can. Buffalo Plains State
Professor Humperdink’s Diary