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1.6.10

Selborne







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As we enter Selborne, Roly says that it's like going back in time, I say that it's like that in the provinces, but at the moment, real time travel is out of the question because Dirk's time machine doesn't work, and, I add, it's not likely to work because all the scientists working with Dirk are fiercely in competition with each other. At the best of times, they refuse to share information; mostly, they spend their time discrediting their colleagues and sabotaging each other's experiments. Arriving at The Wakes, aunt Humperdink’s Selborne residence, we find that we can't open the door. We take turns kicking it until it falls off its hinges. Inside, we find that our old friend Otis, one of our top agents, had been leaning against it, having a rest, he said. After propping him up, Otis tells us that aunt is visiting the troops, and she said that we should make ourselves at home until she returns, or, if we prefer, we can join her on the Western front.

We immediately head for the library, open the whisky cabinet, salute aunt Humperdink, offer toast after toast to absent friends, and drink to the health of Highlanders, islanders, mainlanders, seafarers, canalinians, and lakers. However, Roly says that he doesn't think that there is such a thing as 'lakers'. I say there is, and even if there isn't, I tell him that he shouldn't be so pedantic. Juan says that I'm right about 'lakers', but that there isn't such a word as 'canalinians'. Otis says that canalinians are people who live on canals, but that 'lakers' is definitely not a real word, I say that Otis is wrong, Juan says I am wrong, I tell him that he's switched sides, and Otis is wrong, Juan says he doesn't care, Roly says that we're all wrong, but when we challenge him to tell us why we are wrong, he can't remember what we are taking about. I say this proves it. Roly shouts back that it proves nothing; Juan, finding the conversation tedious, sets off a firework. Roly teeters around the room, crashing into the bookshelves, falling over tables and chairs, mumbling that he needs to find the wine cellar, I tell him that it's easy to find, it's in the cellar, Juan says it's easy to find because it's not lost. Otis says that something doesn't have to be lost before it can be found. I say that it could be lost after it was found, but it can't be found before it's lost. Juan says that if nobody lost it, nobody can find it, Otis shouts that it's the other way around; if it's not lost, it's easy to find. Juan says that it's possible to find that you've lost it. I say that, equally, you could find that you hadn't lost it; but, either way, it's easy to find, it's in the cellar. Roly looks confused so Otis, saying that he has to change for dinner, volunteers to show Roly the way to the cellar, Juan says that he'll to go the kitchen and sling a meal together, and they all stumble off, bouncing off the corridor walls, singing 'The Wanderer's Return' and 'Hame, Hame, Hame' at the top of their voices.

Feeling that I should do something useful, I take it upon myself to improve the library by burning unneeded books. Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' is the first to go on the fire, then, on the grounds that if you don't want one book by Kant, you certainly won't want two of them, this is quickly followed by his 'Crique of Practical Reason'. Unfortunately, the leather-bound volumes don't burn very well, they only smoulder, giving off a terrible stench. I pour whisky on the fire, to get it going, the books ignite spectacularly, but, unfortunately, they send out burning debris that sets the carpet alight. I beat back the flames with a large copy of 'Utilitarianism', by John Mill, re-build the fire and keep it going for hours by feeding it philosophy. By the time I hear the bell ringing for dinner, I am satisfied that, by ridding the library of philosophers, the library is much improved, then, after finishing off the bottles of Vintage Balvenie, Teaninich, Glentauchers, and Highland Park Private Reserve I put the fire out by smothering it with the curtains then, hungry after my exertions, and looking forward to a good meal, I stagger to the dining room, as fast as I possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary