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20.4.10

Owls








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Roly says that he wants to paint an owl in flight but it's difficult because, when it's flying, it's moving, and it's difficult to paint something that's moving. I tell him that we don't have the time because we are direfully behind schedule, Juan suggests he should catch an owl, or buy a stuffed owl, spread its wings out, and hang it from a wire, then, when he paints it, it will look as if it's flying. Roly says that this would be cheating, and bad for the owl, he adds that another reason it's hard to paint an owl is that they tend to come out at night, when they're hard to see. I quickly sketch an owl at night, to show Roly that it's easy, but Juan says it doesn't look like a proper owl, I tell him it's a little-eared owl, Roly says there's no such thing as a little eared owl, I say there is, and I have the sketch to prove it. Roly says I just made it up, so I show him an engraving of a fern-owl and point out that the artist drew the fern-owl at night, and while it was flying. Juan looks at the engraving and says that it doesn't look anything like a fern-owl, and it can't be flying because doesn't even have its wings open. Roly says that another name for the fern-owl is the day-owl, so it was probably drawn in daylight. I remind him that it's also called a short-eared owl but I can't see any ears and I quickly paint a long eared-owl, to show him what a proper owl should look like, but Roly says it's a terrible long-eared owl, it looks more like a great-horned owl, Juan says that Roly has gone mad, owls don't have horns, I tell him that great-horned owls would not be called great-horned owls unless they had great horns, but Juan says the horns are really ears so they should be called great-eared owls, I show Juan a picture of an eagle-owl and tell him that eagle-owls have great ears, but they're called eagle-owls, not great-eared owls, Juan says that that doesn't prove a thing, I say it does, Juan asks what it proves, I say it proves he doesn't know anything about owls, Juan shouts that he's an expert on owls, and that he is famous for his owl stew, I remind him that his owl stew is invariably full of feathers because he's too lazy to de-feather the bird, Juan yells that stewed feathers are fantastically tasty and I'm a culinary Philistine, I reply with a headbutt, Juan answers with a right-hook, I retort with a left-jab to the stomach, Juan comes back with a left uppercut that renders me unconscious. When I wake up, Roly has finished his painting. I tell him that it looks like a brown owl but he says he just made it up, it's not a real owl, it's a spurious owl, an artistic creation, a cross between a russet owl and an auburn owl, Juan says it looks more like a hybrid owl, a mixture of a tan owl and a cinnamon owl. Roly is about to reply but I scream that I am sick of talking about owls and, to take everybody's minds off the stupid birds, I break open barrels of Vintage Inchgower, Jura, Lagavulin, and Tormore Private Reserve and, after offering toast after toast to an owl-free day, we all link arms and stagger around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary