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Changing aeroplanes

George stayed with us while he completed a painting of a robin, a Christmas present for aunt Humperdink. None of us can think of what a robin has to do with Christmas, but I tell him it is a very nice robin, and a difficult bird to paint, especially while being thrown around the sky in an aeroplane with collapsible wings.

The next time Fatty misses the airship, I point out that we are flying backwards, Fatty tells me that there’s nothing he can do about it, and he continues to demonstrate this with hundreds of failed attempts to land on the airship, all the time complaining that he doesn’t want to fly the aeroplane and, because it is Christmas, he would rather be eating. George agrees, and adds that Christmas day should be for quiet contemplation. I tell Fatty to aim at the airship, and put the brakes on before we hit it. Fatty says the aeroplane doesn’t have brakes, Albert says that he has a theory, we tell him to shut up and, breaking open Vintage Miltonduff, Glenfarclas, Longmorn and Edradour Private Reserve, we salute the solemnity of the day until we are too dizzy to think.

When we spin past the airship for the umpteenth time, I remind Juan that we are plowsterishly behind schedule, and can’t afford to waste any more time being bounced around the sky by a pilot who can’t fly, in an aeroplane with variably sized wings. George tells Fatty that trying to land on a moving object while celebrating the birth of Christ is not respectful. Fatty agrees, kicks the joystick forward, yells “Merry Christmas” throws himself back in his seat; bites open a bottle of stout and demands rum, meat, and cake.

Juan and I fight like stupid children over who should fly the aeroplane until George knocks us both out with a wrench, takes over the controls, lands perfectly, and neatly folds the wings. We are all very impressed, but George says that he knows about birds and birds are like aeroplanes, a bird is not designed to stay up in the air all of the time, it can’t fold its wings for too long when it’s flying, so it’s natural for birds to land and fold their wings, and not the other way around. None of us know what George is talking about so we ignore him and borrow the first two aeroplanes that we find that have wings that do not fold.

Unfortunately, Fatty’s weight is so great that, after taking off, his aeroplane took a long time to gain height and he flies through a tree and knocks a wheel off. Fatty can’t land an aeroplane that has wheels, with a wheel missing he would be even worse, I pick the wheel up, and, with Albert flying, and Juan unconscious because I had to cosh him to stop him from taking the controls, we take off and, when we catch up with Fatty, I tie the wheel to a piece of rope and swing it over to George who is clinging on to the wing. For some reason, George won’t stand up and grab the wheel and, judging by the way we are falling out of the sky; Juan has regained consciousness and has taken over the aeroplane. I give up and return to the cockpit where, to help us collect our wits, we break open barrels of vintage Highland single malt then, clapping and cheering, we offer toast after toast to quiet contemplation and the true meaning of Christmas, which requires wild celebration; now, alternately shrieking with excitement and howling with fear, we sing carols at the top of voice and wheel madly through the sky, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary