I tell Roly and George that we’re on the way to collect another airship and we just called in to say goodbye, and wish them the best of luck in their artistic ventures, they offer to buy us a pint before we go, one for the road, as it were. Although we will be travelling by air, rather than road, and all Roly and George’s expenses are covered by aunt Humperdink, so they don’t actually have to purchase any ale, it would be churlish to refuse, so Juan goes to the bar to order the beers and to break up the fight that’s developing between Albert and Romain. George shows me a couple of paintings that he’s done, one of some house martins and another of a swift. I admire both the paintings but Roly says they’re rubbish and George doesn’t have the slightest idea about painting birds, especially if they’re flying or moving, the house martins looks as if they’re stuffed, he says, and the swift looks like it’s falling like a stone. I am about to tell Roly that I think the paintings are very nice when I’m interrupted by a thumping sound and, looking up, I see that Romain has Albert in a strangle-hold and he’s banging Albert’s head on the counter, shouting that just because he hasn’t included measurements in his designs, it doesn’t mean the models are fat.
Considering that Romain is a famous artist and fashion designer, and Albert is a renowned physicist, I am surprised to see them behaving like this, but Roly points out that Romain comes from a military family, so, despite his profession, and generally gentle character, he probably likes a good brawl. As he says this, Albert grabs Romain’s wrist, twists himself out of the strangle-hold, gets Romain in a half-nelson, forces him up against the bar, and shouts that unless Romain includes measurements, his designs are completely useless; and George reminds me that Albert is German, and it is in the Teutonic nature to engage in mindless brutality at the slightest opportunity.
Juan is carrying six pints of ale so it’s difficult for him to break up the fight, but he does kick Albert in passing, this diverts Albert’s attention long enough for Romain to break the half-nelson, apply a double wrist-lock and, with the efficient use of a chancery back heel together with a shoulder throw, he hurls Albert to the ground, leaps on him and gets him in a jack-knife hold. Although he is bent double, Albert manages to swing his free leg up and over Romain’s head then, catching Romain’s neck with the back of his knee, he straightens his leg and sends Romain spinning across the floor. Romain, trying to stop himself, grabs the leg of our table and pulls the table over, as Juan had just placed the pints of ale on the table, the glasses crash to the ground and the landlord comes out, looking worried. I apologise for the mess and offer to clean it up, but the landlord, looking at Romain pounce on Albert and attempt to grind his face into some broken glass, says that an upset table and few smashed glasses aren’t a problem, but he is concerned that Romain and Albert might get badly hurt.
I put the landlord’s mind at ease by explaining that they’re not really fighting, they’re wrestling, and nobody ever gets hurt when wrestling as it’s like judo, or boxing, it’s just an entertaining, but totally harmless, performance. As I say this, Albert gets Romain in a figure-four scissors hold, Romain breaks the hold by poking Albert in the eye, Albert bites Romain’s finger and Romain knees Albert in the stomach. We would love to stay and watch the fight but we are caribaldishly behind schedule, so, saying goodbye to George and Roly and shouting encouragement at Albert and Romain, and giving them both a good kicking on the way out, for good measure, we inflate our bagpipes and, playing wild Highland battle songs at full volume, we stagger through Selborne, and on to the airfield, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink’s Diary