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Breakfast, delayed

1. Rich Digestive, 2. Reading Shortbread. 3. Reading Cracker. 4. Monarch. 5. Wheat-meal. 6. Grilled Cake (Sultana). 7. Phillipine. 8. Ratifia. 9. Acorn. 10. Dinner Rolls. 11. Mixed Creams, 12. Mixed. 13. Nursery Rhyme. 14. Nursery. 15. Fancy Cracknel. 16. Mixed Wine. 17. Desert Wafers. 18. Coffee. 19. Tea Rusks. 20. Atlantic. 21. Butter. 22. Nice. 23. Concert. 24. Cinderella. 25. Breakfast. 26. Macaroons (Italian). 27. Ginger Nuts.

I decide to go to the galley and help Fatty prepare breakfast, and to ask him if he has managed to contact another submarine, as we are skluifishy behind schedule. Before leaving, George asks me to look at his latest painting. He tells me it’s a picture of a hawfinch, standing beside its eggs. However, he says, having been in submarines for so long, he can’t exactly remember what the bird looks like, and he asks me if the bird he’s painted bears any resemblance to a hawfinch. I tell him that I’ve never heard of a hawfinch, but I assume it’s half hawk and half finch and, I dimly remember, hawks have beaks and finches, I vaguely recall, have wings, and I am sure that both hawks and finches lay eggs, so, examining George’s picture carefully, I tell him that the bird he’s drawn is probably just like a hawfinch.

Juan, looking up from his magazine, containing photographs of well-formed, but ill-dressed, women, says that George should paint something worth painting, like a beautiful woman; churning out one stupid looking bird after another, he says, is just a waste of time. George starts to defend his art, but Juan, who is meant to be playing chess with Albert, ignores George, casually shoves a piece forward, says “checkmate”, and returns to his magazine. Albert swears and starts throwing chess pieces around the cabin, shouting that it’s impossible. I ask him what it is that’s impossible and he says that Juan beat him at chess again. I can see Albert’s problem, Albert is internationally recognised as having one of the finest minds on the planet, whereas Juan is, basically, a lunatic, so, from Albert’s perspective, for Juan to beat him at chess is an impossibility, and yet he does it time and again. I tell Albert that his strategy is useless; it’s out of date and doesn’t work. Albert looks confused and angry, so I explain that his strategy is like geometry, and, I remind Albert that he, himself, said that geometry is rubbish.

Albert protests, saying that he never said such a thing, what he said, he tells us, was that Euclidean geometry deals with things called “straight lines,” to each of which is ascribed the property of being uniquely determined by two points situated in it. The concept ‘true’, he explains, does not tally with the assertions of pure geometry, because, by the word ‘true’ we are essentially in the habit of designating always the correspondence with a ‘real’ object; geometry, however, is not concerned with the relation of the ideas involved in it to objects of experience, but only with the logical connection of these ideas among themselves. Juan asks me what Albert is talking about; I tell him that Albert is saying that geometry, like his chess strategy, is rubbish. Albert yells that that is not what is saying at all. I realise that Albert, despite the fact that everybody thinks that he is a genius, can’t be too bright, however, before I can give him practical demonstration of the uselessness of his strategy, I am interrupted by Fatty looking into the cabin and telling us that breakfast has been delayed again.

Fatty, looking distraught, explains that he had prepared oyster patties, fillets of sole in jelly, Russian timbale in turbot, salmon cutlets, lobster salad, chicken creams, goose liver creams, lamb cutlets masked with sauce, roast chickens, stuffed turkey poult, pigeon pie, galantine of veal, ham and tongue, and spiced beef with salad, followed by apricot cream, pistachio cream, mixed fruit with kirsch, bananas in jelly, pine apple charlotte, meringues with cream, French pastry, Neapolitan ice, strawberry cream, lemon water ice, fruit, dessert, coffee and biscuits, but, although he has some tins of syrup and a few jars of jam and marmalade, freshly made biscuits demand freshly made preserves and, as he can’t supply such a thing, he has had to throw breakfast away, and rethink the entire menu.

Juan says that Fatty shouldn’t worry as we are happy to settle for a traditional Highland breakfast of fine single malt, so saying, he breaks out the Vintage Glenmorangie, Benrinnes, Balbair and Royal Brackla Special Reserve, we offer toast after toast to breakfast chefs, salute all submariners and drink to Fatty’s wonderful meals then, linking arms and cheering, we tumble around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary