Professor Humperdink III

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10.2.10

Dinner with John




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Although we are frightfully behind schedule, we call in to see our old friend, John Milton. We are delighted to see him with his beloved pet hare, Paradise, as we had heard that she was lost. John says that, although the animal had been lost, her absence did inspire him to write a long poem. John is the most unimaginative poet in the English language so we aren't surprised to hear that he entitled his poem 'Paradise Lost'. Now the hare has come back, John tells us, he is writing another poem. Juan guesses that it's called 'Paradise Found' but John says that the creature wasn't really found as it came back on its own volition, so he was thinking about calling his poem, 'Paradise Comes Back', however, I suggest he call it 'Paradise Regained', John and Juan think this is a wonderful title and, to celebrate, Juan offers to cook dinner, while I serve up Vintage Springbank, Talisker, Bowmore and Glenturret Private Reserve.

Juan is a superb cook and John always enjoys vintage single malt, so we have a wonderful time until Juan says that he wants to inspire John to write a trilogy, suggests that the title for the third poem could be 'Paradise Digested', and presents us with jugged hare. John is normally a humble, meek and profoundly religious person, but he fills the air with profanity, grabs a knife and goes berserk. I can't believe that Juan could be so insensitive as to cook Paradise, but it is a shame to let a good food go to waste, so I trip John up and kick him in the head, to calm him down, Juan grabs the roast and, yelling goodbye to John, and wishing him the best of luck with his poetry, we leave, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

Leaving the stone




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Bump into Rodrigo, and his brothers, Manuel, Jorge and Sergio. We are surprised to see them, but they explain that they were sailing back to Spain, after visiting aunt Humperdink in England, and their ship was lured onto the Cornish cliffs, and looted; one of Cornwall's more successful industries. They have some interesting news; aunt Humperdink told them that Dirk's time machine is operating again, it isn't, as far as she knows, actually working, but it is humming, buzzing, clicking and sending out sparks, which is promising.

This is very exciting and, to celebrate, we share out our flasks of Vintage Tomatin, Lochside, Springbank, and Glenordie Private Reserve; Juan tells our Spanish friends that we are meant to be meeting aunt in India, but that dragging the stone has made us idiotically behind schedule. Rodrigo says that they would be happy to take the stone for us, I give them a few handfuls of gems, for their trouble, Juan leaves them a keg of his Special Reserve, to give them energy, and, to show our appreciation, before leaving, we blow up our bagpipes and regale our friends with our rendition of 'Spanish Lady', and we all dance madly around the stone, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

3.2.10

Selecting a stone



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As we can't find Archie, we assume that he has gone to India, to wish him a good journey, we raise flasks of Juan's Special Reserve, which we keep for such occasions, and offer toast after toast to Archie, his wonderful pub-signs, and his beautiful birds. Juan reminds me that, although we still haven't found a train station and we are lost, fuzzled and feuilletonishly behind schedule, before we follow Archie, we should head inland to choose a stone for aunt's temple.

Cornwall is stuffed with rock and we quickly find a suitable stone. I suggest that we carve it into a column, so we can roll it to India. Juan says it would be easier to break it into small pieces, and send the pieces by train. I say that that would spoil the stone. Juan says that there's nothing wrong with small, broken, things, the Cornish, he says, are a small, stunted, race, but that doesn't diminish their capacity to drink ale. This is true, and we lift our flasks of Vintage Longmorn, Benrinnes, Craigellachie and Bunnahabhainn Private Reserve, salute our dwarfish, Cornish, cousins, bellow the fourth verse of 'Canborne Hill' at the top of our voices and, tripping over stones and bouncing off boulders, we stamp out a wild Penryn Fling, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary

1.2.10

Dotterel




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Struggling over wild, hostile, moors and meeting wild, hostile, people, who direct us into stinking, dangerous, marshes, we realise that we must be in Cornwall.

Most people, when they realise that they are in Cornwall, are inconsolable, but, for us, it is ideal. We need stones, Cornwall has wonderful quarries and mines, and Cornish women, Juan reminds me, are the most beautiful women in the world. To celebrate, we raise our flasks of Benrinnes, Laphroaig, Strathisla and Ardbeg Private Reserve and offer toast after toast to the savage people of this bleak, inhospitable, land. I tell Juan that we don't have any time to waste as we are expected in India, we have to find a quarry and a train station, we are deeply befuddled, and objurgatingly behind schedule. Juan shouts that words with Latin roots are outlawed in Cornwall, In Cornwall, he says, people who don't speak Cornish are the enemy.

I tell Juan that my Cornish is rusty and, in England, I prefer to speak English. Juan yells that we aren't in England, we are in Cornwall. Juan's thinks that he can speak Cornish fluently, but all he does is speak Gaelic with a thick West Country accent. Nobody understands him, but he puts this down to the fact that, because they let the language become virtually extinct, Cornish people can't remember their own language but, embarrassed by their apathetic illiteracy and pig-idle ignorance, when talking in front of foreigners, they just make up words, or simply grunt, and everybody pretends to understand each other.

We return to tell Archie the good news and, from a distance, we can see that he is standing on one foot, holding one arm up in the air. As we approach, puzzled, he puts his leg down, lifts up his other leg, and extends his other arm above his head. When he extends both arms and hops around in a circle, flapping and chirping, I tell Juan that Archie must have spotted a plover, and, when we get close, we see that Archie has been painting a dotterel. We watch as the bird lifts up a wing and waits until Archie lifts up an arm, then the bird nods its head, raises a foot, and turns around, and Archie imitates the bird's movements exactly. Juan asks Archie what he is doing. Archie replies that he is getting in touch with the spirit of the bird. Juan says the best way to do this is to steep it in Vintage Tomintoul Special Reserve.

I tell Juan that, as a snake will hypnotise a mouse, the dotterel has a mesmeric power that makes a dull, weak-minded person copy its actions. As I explain this, the dotterel turns around faster and faster until Archie, chirruping and flapping, whirls off into the distance. I remind Juan not to look at the bird, but I'm too late, he is staring at the bird, standing on one leg, with his arm raised. Stupidly, I inadvertently follow Juan's gaze and, looking directly at the bird, I am overcome by an irresistible urge to raise one arm in the air and stand on one foot. Then, when the bird lowers one wing and raises the other one, and changes legs, and hops from side to side. I feel that it is the most natural thing in the world to mirror its movements.

Juan eventually overcomes the dotterel's spell by closing his eyes, bellowing the Black Watch war cry, diving forward, grabbing the surprised dotterel, then, dangling the enraged bird by the tail feathers, holds it out for my inspection. I immediately stand on my head. I yell at Juan to stop fooling about and, after a brawl about the best way to poach a plover, during which the dotterel escaped, we blow up our bagpipes and, playing 'A Dotterel is a Dainty Dish', 'The Dotterel Jig', and 'A Scottish Plover', we hop after Archie, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary