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30.10.09

Leaving 'The Lion'










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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 ├ęclairs 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, ├ęclairs 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