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22.1.10

Goldfinch





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Archie continues to insist that he wants to paint a goldfinch, but I point out that we don't have the time as we are lost, befuddled, and drotchelishly behind schedule, besides which, we are not likely to see a goldfinch as they are normally trapped, put in cages, and sold as ornaments. Juan says that, if Archie wants a model, we can catch another kind of finch, like a platinumfinch or bronzefinch, but Archie says there's no such thing; I suggest that we catch a silver-finch, or a greenfinch, and spray it gold. Archie yells that we might be rich in finches, but, whatever colour it is, no other finch has the pugnacity of a goldfinch. I say that a bullfinch is bullish and a hawfinch is hawkish, but Juan complains that, whatever their attitude, painting a succession of ornamental birds is a pointless use of paint. I suggest that Archie paints a zebra-finch instead, that way, because it just has black and white stripes, he wouldn't have to waste gold paint. Archie snarls and says that using paint is not wasting it, wasting paint is when a painting turns out to be rubbish, and you have to sling the thing out, and that happens all the time, he shouts, excitedly grabbing and squishing tubes of paint, squirting colours in all directions and spraying plumes of gold into his beard.

Leaving Archie to scramble together something that looks vaguely goldfinchy and pugnacious, I wander off to inspect some curious writing I see, inscribed in a rock. On closer examination, I recognise aunt Humperdink's code; I quickly decipher the code to reveal a message: 'Dear Andrzej, sorry to have missed you. Meet me in India, bring Juan and Archie. Best Regards, Aunt H.'

This is wonderful news and I rush back to tell Juan and Archie. When I tell them, Archie slaps his head and says that that is the message he meant to give us, but forgot, Juan whoops, reminds us that Indian women are the most beautiful women in the world, and jigs around in excitement. To celebrate, Archie rubs his beard on his canvas, putting the finishing touches on his goldfinch, then, raising our flasks of Vintage Aberlour, Miltonduff, Lochnagar, and Clynelish Special Reserve, and drinking toast after toast to gold, finches and aunt Humperdink, we tumble around in wild, exuberant, circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary