I catch up with Juan and Roly in the dining room where we are joined by another guest who introduces himself as Charles. Juan, presenting the first course, tells us that he couldn't cook the meal that he had planned as, although he searched amongst the rafters in the attic, he couldn't find any bats, so, rather than having soupe de chauve-souris as a starter, we will have to settle for consommé jardinière. Roly and Charles look relieved but Juan tells them that they're missing a treat as he spent years perfecting his bat soup, but that any idiot can sling a common or garden consommé together.
Juan wants to serve Vintage Glenfiddich, Lochnagar, Cragganmore and Auchentoshan Private Reserve, but Roly reminds us that his friend, George 'Beardy' Saintsbury, says that consommé without
Madeira is like a marriage without a bride, completely pointless and no fun at all. Juan says that if a saint says it, it must be true; I tell him that Beardy isn't a saint, he's a professor, but he does have a saint-like knowledge of wines. Charles says that saints shouldn't have a deep knowledge of wine, but I point out that there are piles of saints who are patron saints of wine so they must have been wine experts. Roly leans over and whispers to me that there's something distinctly odd, yet oddly familiar about Charles, before I can explain, Juan opens a bottle of 1779 Verdelho "Gasalee" Madeira and we raise our glasses, drink to each other's health then, drooling and slobbering with excitement, we launch into the meal, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink's Diary