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26.11.09

Leaving the train




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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 PataƱjali 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