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3.7.10

The Selborne Arms




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Juan and I go to check on the airship, but we can see that it isn't quite ready for flight, this is frustrating as we are mislernitishly behind schedule; Juan suggests that we go to the Selborne Arms, while we wait for the airship to be completed.

The Selborne Arms is a wonderful pub, often frequented by aunt Humperdink herself, but, tragically, it doesn't have a licence to sell spirits. Spending a day or two in a pub that doesn't sell single malt is positively unhealthy so Juan goes back to the aunt's residence to collect some barrels of Vintage Caperdonich, Edradour, Glen Keith, and Brackla Private Reserve, while I head directly to the pub.

Entering the public bar, I see Roly stumbling around, obviously the worse for wear, shouting at my old friend, and Roly's fellow artist, George Rankin. Seeing me, Roly stops shouting long enough to tell me that, while Juan and I were inspecting the airship, aunt Humperdink rang, and said that she has had to return to India and that we should meet her in Benares, and, on the way, we should recruit some more agents. I ask Roly where Hajj is and he says that Hajj said that he was going to change and that he would meet us here later. Having said this, Roly starts shouting at George again. The food and beer in the Selborne arms is fantastic, so, after ordering six courses of Scottish smoked salmon and twelve pints of ale, to be getting on with, I go over to find out what it is that Roly is so upset about, to discover that he is trying to persuade George to paint birds while they are flying.

George is famous for paintings birds, but, generally, he only paints them while they are on the ground which, Roly says, is something that any mutton-headed twerp can do; an artist of real merit, Roly claims, should be able to paint a bird doing what a bird does best, which is to fly. I feel I have to defend George and say that birds do lots of things equally well, and painting a bird looking after its eggs, or just wandering around, enjoying the day, is as valid as painting it while it's flying. Roly tells me to shut up and challenges George to paint a flying bird. George quickly paints a skylark but Roly says that it's rubbish; all George has done, he says, is paint a bird with its wings extended and placed it in the air. George protests, saying that there's nothing wrong with the painting, the skylark has just taken off. I can't see anything wrong with the skylark either and as, at this moment, the salmon arrives, I quieten Roly down by hitting him on the head with a chair and, after kicking him under the table, we dive at the fish like demented otters and sling it down our necks as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary