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12.7.10

More salmon



Sir John
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I warn George that, if Roly wakes up and finds that he has missed the smoked salmon, he will go berserk. George revives him by pouring a pint of beer over his head, Roly groans, sits up, and knocks the table over. George, trying to avoid the table, falls off his chair. I go to the bar to order some more beer and salmon; watching George and Roly slithering around in a pool of fish-heads and ale, bawling nonsense about birds, I apologise to the landlord for their behaviour. The landlord shrugs and says that artists have more interesting things to think about than table manners. However, listening to Roly yelling that George’s picture of a gannet is pathetic as it doesn’t show the bird diving, which is what gannets are famous for, and George shouting back that a gannet spends more time standing on cliff ledges than diving, so the painting of it on a cliff is more representative of the bird than if it were diving, when it is just a blur, and, he bawls, there’s no point in painting a blur and then calling it a gannet, I wonder if the barman is right.

Roly shouts back at George, saying that even a blur would be better than a painting of bird standing around doing nothing, George, in reply, slaps Roly with a half-eaten salmon, Roly charges at George, head-butting him in the stomach, and they both crash against the wall and fall through the window. I offer to pay the barman for the damage, but he says that all expenses are covered by aunt Humperdink as she says that artists are often poor, and she wants her artistic friends to enjoy themselves without worrying about money.

There’s a clattering outside, the door opens and Juan appears, rolling barrels of malt. He asks me why George and Roly are laying on the ground outside, unconscious, covered with ale and fish, and bleeding. I tell him that they fell out of the window during a discussion about gannets; he says they were probably emulating the gannet’s dive, forgetting that gannets dive into water, rather than on to a pavement. I tell Juan that it more likely that Roly and George imbibed too much ale, without tempering it with whisky; and ale, by itself, can have a deleterious effect on the senses. Juan agrees and goes out to revive the artists with a few shots of single malt.

I order some more fish and beer and ask the landlord if he could serve it quickly as we are mauchlessly behind schedule. A short while later, Roly, George and Juan stumble back into the bar, together with another gentleman, he introduces himself a Sir John who, after knocking back a few beers, tells us that he just came from aunt Humperdink’s residence. Roly, looking puzzled, pulls me aside and tells me that he is sure that he has met Sir John before but, for the life of him, he can’t remember where. I am just abut to tell Roly who Sir John is, when I am distracted by the arrival of more Scottish smoked salmon, and by Juan breaking open barrels of Vintage Dalwlhinnie, Fettercairn, Blair Athol, and Glencadam Special Reserve. We quickly offer a toast to the wonderful food and service in the Selborne Arms then, screeching like starving gannets, we dive into the fish and sling it down our necks, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary