Professor Humperdink III

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Leaving the train

Juan has been complaining about his publishing interests; he compiled his Pictish-Sanskrit dictionary in order to prove that the great Indian scriptures were, originally, folk stories from Argyllshire, this has not been a great success. The sales of his 'Guide to Damin Slang' and have been disappointing and, although his sixteen volume work on Yuwaalaraay phonology has met with an excellent reception from the two linguists who read it, it is not proving popular amongst the general public. To make matters worse, Juan refuses to do any work on the latest edition of his memoirs as he is disillusioned with his readers. I remind him that there are millions of women longing to read this year's edition, so he has nothing to be disillusioned about. But he says they are only interested in reading about the scandals of the inner court, but that they do not take his other writing seriously. I remind him that his translation of the Yoga System of Patañjali rendered the words of the master into gibberish, so, after that, it is hard to take his work seriously, but Juan defends his translation saying that his translation was accurate, and the original work is gibberish and offers an example from the famous translation by Professor Woods... 'As being the pains which are mutations and anxieties and subliminal-impressions, and by reason of the opposition of the fluctuations of the aspects to the discriminating all is nothing but pain.' This, Juan points out, is incomprehensible twaddle, compared to which, any translation must be an improvement. I propose that he concentrate on translating Gaelic folk stories, as any rendering of Gaelic folk stories into comprehensible English is to do a disservice to the spirit of the meandering, confused, fantastical, nonsense dictated by hopelessly addled story tellers to witlessly befuddled folklorists. Juan agrees, saying that this a is a wonderful idea; to celebrate, we open our flasks of Vintage Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Tomintoul, and Scapa Special Reserve and swinging to and fro, yelling with excitement, and singing, 'Bonnie Betsy of Boltachan' and 'Am faigh mi do nighean a-nis?' at the top of our voices, we offer toast after toast to all translators.

Some people might feel nervous, hanging beneath a hurtling locomotive. Fortunately, with Bakulebe in charge, we have nothing to worry about. As the senior engineer of the Special Train Service, Bakulebe's philosophy is that Special Train Service passengers must always be given a safe and trouble-free journey. Nobody, Bakulebe believes, should have to endure a bumpy, or noisy ride, and he constantly aspires to making it appear as if the train were silently gliding over the tracks. As an example of Bakulebe's consideration, knowing that the noise of the engine can be disturbing to passengers who are trying to sleep, when heading down a very long incline, at night, Bakulebe either shuts down the engine completely, or de-couples it and races ahead of the the carriages until he is so far away that the passengers can't hear the engine and can rest in peace. To minimise discomfort, Bakulebe constantly seeks the gentlest gradient and the smoothest, best laid, tracks, this attention to the comfort of passengers often requires Bakulebe to take long detours, knowing this, he always carries as much coal as possible, this allows him to keep going for weeks at a time without stopping. Bakulebe is famously reluctant to stop the train in any instance; his trains have been attacked on many occasions, and he believes that at train is at its most vulnerable when it is not in motion. He says that a locomotive that is not moving is not a locomotive, but merely a pile of dangerous junk, and he does not want his passengers to have to endure spending time in useless heap of mechanical garbage. For these reasons, for as long as we can hang on, we are perfectly secure, but we are filthily behind schedule, thoroughly besmutted, greasy, alarmingly low on Vintage Longmorn, Oban, Benrinnes, and Tamdhu Private Reserve, and, as it may be a long time before Bakulebe stops the train, we decide to jump off when we next pass the next town. As a token of our appreciation, we spend some time tying flasks of vintage single malt under the carriage, where Bakulebe will eventually find them. Because of his beliefs, Bakulebe doesn't drink whisky, but, finding the flasks, at least he will know that he successfully rescued us, then, seeing that we are heading through a town, we let go of the carriage and, propelled by the impetus of the speeding train, roll along the track towards civilization, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary


Hanging on

Getting into the train is proving to be difficult. Juan, quickly drawing a simple diagram, suggests that we could get to the cab by climbing between the outer firebox and the brick arch. I point out that his diagram doesn't bear any resemblance to our train, Juan retorts that sketching a train, while hanging, upside down, beneath the train, is very difficult. I remind him that, in any instance, because we stuffed ourselves senseless on Captain Captain 'Fatty' Farquhar's amazingly delicious collection of biscuits and cookies, cheesecakes, sweet and savoury pies, scones, tartlets, rolls and strudels, we are much too big to fit into the inner workings of the train. Juan says that the heat and the steam of the engine will melt the fat off our bodies and then we will be slim enough to slither through the pipes. This is a very good point and, to celebrate such a good idea, we lower our flasks of Vintage Linkwood, Strathisla, Cardhu and Clynelish Special Reserve to our inverted mouths and drink toast after toast to all slimmers.

Alternately, we decide, after some more consideration, we could just remain where we are and hang on until Bakulebe stops the train. This is an even better idea and, to celebrate, we thrust our flasks of Vintage Duff's Defiance into a steam outlet and, enjoying the invigorating tang of steam-heated, greased, hot toddy, we hurtle down through the glorious hills, singing 'An dà Dhuin' Uasal òg' at the top of our voices, and swinging from side to side, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary


Leaving the Mountains

Waddling over mountains is very slow and laborious, rarely recommended by professional mountaineers, but, because we gorged ourselves stupid on Captain Farquhar's wonderful selection of breads, cakes, chocolate éclairs and fruit buns, we are as fat as overstuffed sows, and have no choice. However, usefully, our enhanced girth allows more room for sustenance and, when crossing a vast mountain range, sustenance is vital. Sustaining ourselves with Vintage Auchroisk, Interleven, Lochnagar, and Strathisla Special Reserve, we discover that climbing up mountains is difficult, with a huge belly, but rolling down the other side is very easy and, although we are corpulently behind schedule, we have a lot of fun. Nonetheless, worryingly, after several days, we realise that, at the rate we are travelling, it is going to take us weeks to cross the mountains, and our stocks of Vintage Linkwood, Lochside, Springbank and Ardbeg Private Reserve are alarmingly low.

Fortunately, we hear a whistle blowing and immediately recognise Bakulebe's train whistle. This is very exciting and we flounder through the snow towards the whistle until we see Bakulebe's train approaching. Our old friend, Bakulebe, is one of our top agents and because, as the senior engineer with the Special Train Service, he knows that a slow or stationary train is vulnerable to attack, he always maintains maximum speed. This means that we have to jump aboard the speeding train which, as we are fantastically obese, is too difficult, so we lie on the tracks and, and as the train passes over us, we grab at the underside of a carriage and, hanging under the train like bloated bats, we thunder through the beautiful mountains, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary


Leaving the balloon

We crashed against the side of a mountain, the balloon was ripped to shreds and we sustained serious injuries, but, as Juan points out, bathing his wounds in Vintage Balmenach Private Reserve, we aren't in as bad a condition as when Morag, the ethereally beautiful, but terrifyingly vicious, landlady of The Cheeky Monkey, in Aberfeldy, throws us out at closing time.

Because of the huge amount of cakes and pastries we ate on board The Lion, we are both grossly overweight and, having to stop to rest every few minutes, we spend several days crawling around the mountain, rescuing the kegs of Vintage Caol lla, Linkwood, Lochside and Bunnahabhainn Private Reserve that fell from the balloon when we crashed. Then, to celebrate, Juan breaks open a barrel of his Special Reserve and, offering toast after toast to the indefatigableness of fat climbers, and fortifying ourselves against altitude sickness, cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue and lowering of the spirits, we lumber over the mountains, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary