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Juan, looking at Roly's latest bird paintings, says they're rubbish. I say there's nothing wrong with them, but Juan says the birds are upside down, and whoever heard of an upside down bird? I say that they look vaguely like peewits, who are famous for flying upside down. Juan says that they look more like dotterels and a dotterel definitely does not fly upside down, I suggest that they might be plovers and a plover rolls over to confuse its enemies. Roly, sounding irritated, tells us we are looking at the paintings the wrong up, and that any fool can see it's meant to be a curracag, a lapwing, which, however, does do aerobatics. Juan says that lapwings are horrible birds. I tell Juan there's no such thing as a horrible bird, but Juan says that that's as stupid as saying that there's no such thing as a horrible human. Roly, looking pointedly at Juan, says that there are certainly some horrible humans, and says that, in German, the lapwing is called a 'kibitzer', someone who hangs around making unwanted and pointless remarks. I say this sounds like Juan, but it's unfair on lapwings, but Roly says that, in Moldavia, when the Tartars invaded, people hid in the marshes, but the lapwings flew around, screeching, and drew attention to them, which is why everybody in Moldavia hates the bird. I tell Roly that it wasn't Moldavia, it was Romania, where it's called a nagâţ, and a lapwing doesn't screech, it makes a sound that sounds like "did he do it?

Juan tells us that there's a famous Russian song about the lapwing; in Russia, it's called a chibis and, at this time of the year, it makes a noise like "kyby-kuuyb, kybyy-kuuuyb" which, in the Chibisnom language, means "Hello, spring! I say that, in England, it sounds like "whey-willuchooee-willuch-willuch-coee" which, in Lapwingish, means "Whee, look at me, I'm upside down! Roly says that we are both completely daft, but he tells us that he wants to paint some more birds. I remind him that we don't have time as we are miserably behind schedule, Roly looks disappointed, so Juan breaks out the Vintage Strathisla, Talisker, Tormore, and Knockando Special Reserve, to cheer him up, then, after offering toast after toast to the beauty of birds, we blow up our bagpipes and, playing 'Cnoc Na Feille' and 'U Dorogi Chibis' at full volume, we run around in excited, eccentric, circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary