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Leaving Selborne

We have a wonderful time in the pub. By the morning, we have finished off the whisky. Juan says that we should go back to aunt’s house for some more. However, as Roly, George, Sir John, the landlord, and all the other customers of the Selborne Arms, are lying on the floor, unconscious, and, as we are wallydragishly behind schedule, I suggest that we collect the malt and take it directly to the airship.

After leaving a note to the landlord, thanking him for his hospitality, and praising the fantastic food, unbeatable service, and hearty ale of the Selborne Arms, we collect barrels of Vintage Knockando, Tomintoul, Speyburn and Royal Lochnagar Family Reserve from aunt’s residence and head for the airfield.

On the way, I try to persuade Juan that, rather than flying the airship himself, he should leave it to a competent pilot. Juan takes offence at this and says that he is an extremely competent pilot and that an airship is just like a boat, a boat that sails in the sky, so anybody who can sail a boat can fly an airship, and any imbecile can sail a boat. I think there’s something faulty about this argument, especially as Juan is a terrible sailor, but, before I can argue the case any further, we arrive at the airfield where we are delighted to see the airship is ready for flight.

The chief engineer, hearing that Juan intends to pilot the craft, is deeply concerned and tells us that it takes a great deal of skill and experience to fly an airship, and, knowing Juan’s disastrous flying record, advises us to take a qualified pilot. Juan argues against this, saying that, just because someone has qualifications, it doesn’t mean they’re any good, for example, he says, economists often have qualifications, but everyone knows that all they do is spend their lives sitting in clubs, pontificating, drinking port, criticising each other, burbling fatuous advice at anyone foolish enough to listen to them; then they retire on a fat pension. The chief engineer says that there’s a difference between doing something that doesn’t matter, like economics, and flying an aircraft, but, seeing that Juan is determined to fly the airship himself, he advises us, at least, to avoid flying over London where, were we to crash, a great deal of casualties may result. Juan says that there is no chance of us crashing, we are not going anywhere near London, and all that is necessary is to keep the airship going forward and the right way up, which is something that any bladder-brained simpleton could do.

A short time later, with Juan at the wheel, we’re flying over London, backwards and upside down. Then, spectacularly, Juan proves that his inability to fly an airship is only exceeded by his inability to land an airship.

Fortunately, we are able to rescue the barrels of Speyburn and Royal Lochnagar and, although I am furious at Juan’s idiocy, and we are both badly singed, the wonderful effects of superb vintage single-malt make everything right with the world. After watching the flames for a while, we decide to go back to collect another airship, then, leaving the red-hot wreckage behind for someone to clean up, we inflate our bagpipes and, playing ‘The Skye Boat Song’, ‘As I Cam’ Down’, and ‘It Fell on a Morning’, we stagger back to Selborne, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary