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Because of his success in painting a flying owl, Roly decides that, now, he wants to paint a kingfisher in flight, but I tell him that we are ghaistishly behind schedule and can't waste time waiting for a kingfisher to turn up, and even if it does, all he is likely to see is a multi-coloured blur as if flies past and, if he wants to paint a multi-coloured blur, he doesn't need to actually see a kingfisher, he can just throw paint at a canvas and smear it around with a stick. Juan says that it would be simpler for Roly to paint a king and a fishing scene, that would be easy and, that way, he could represent a kingfisher without going to the trouble of drawing the bird itself. I say that that's a good idea, and slap together a painting of George and another one of a fish, to demonstrate, but Roly says that that's just daft; a painting of a kingfisher has to be a painting of a kingfisher, not two paintings of entirely different subjects. Juan says that a king isn't a subject, I agree, and say that the ridiculous George is less of a subject and more of an object, an object of derision. Juan says that painting birds, stupid looking kings, or fish, instead of painting women, is like drinking wine instead of drinking whisky, it's a second-rate, low-grade, pastime. Roly protests at this, saying that there's nothing second rate about wine and a decent claret is a wonderful thing. I tell Roly that there's no such thing as a decent claret, some clarets, I allow, are better than others but, compared to single malt, they all taste like cat's urine.

Roly says that I'm an idiot, everybody knows that a '55 Claret, for example, is a delight, I tell him the '55 was ruined by oidium and tastes like rancid pus, and Juan adds that the '56 was even worse and tastes like the liquid secreted from a dead dog's eye, I add that the '57 tastes like something that oozed from a putrescent rat's bladder. Roly says that, in general, the fifties didn't produce the best vintages on record, I say that this is an outrageous exaggeration, when it came to claret, the entire decade produced nothing but filth, but Roly says that '58 was a Comet Year which produced an excellent Margaux and the '58 Bordeaux was the sweetest, gentlest, and most perfect of wines imaginable, I disagree, saying that against even a fifth-rate Lowland whisky, the '58 Bordeaux tastes like the exudations of a decaying warthog. To show Roly what a proper drink tastes like, Juan breaks out the Vintage Glenmorangie, Ardmore, Oban and Balblair Private Reserve and, while Roly throws together a picture of a kingfisher, we offer toast after toast to the glory of single-malt then, blowing up our bagpipes and playing 'Nansie's to the Greenwood Gane', 'Bab at the Bowster' and 'Ballinamona Ora', we tumble around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary