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Gordon lands as gracefully as a bird, I crash into a tree. Albert lands relatively safely, Fatty bounces, Juan lands in the river, then, threshing around, snarling, swearing and fighting with the flapping, wet, parachute, he flounders around like a jellyfish on stilts until he is carried away by the current. This is satisfying. However, I cannot fold my parachute up either and fall from the tree into a thorn bush. George says that I would benefit from giving more attention to Fatty’s serviette folding lessons. I remind him that a parachute is not a serviette, any moth-witted, turnip-brained, idiot can fold a serviette, but folding a parachute is nearly impossible. George calmly folds his parachute up and says that, perhaps, I just need more practise. I tell him to mind his own business

I sulk and pick thorns out of my flesh while we wait for Juan to return. Annoyingly, Fatty shows me a diagram of a pyramid shaped serviette and hands me a serviette to fold. Although I might not perfectly fold a parachute every time, I am confident that I can quickly fold something as trivially simple as a serviette. Fifteen hours later, I declare that folding a serviette into a pyramid is impossible and following a diagram that is wrong makes it even more impossible. Fatty says the diagram isn’t wrong and Albert tells me that you can’t have something that is more impossible than something else that is impossible. I tell him that all his theories are more impossible to prove than proving a tiger can fit in a tuba, so he should shut up. Fatty tells us to stop arguing, picks up a serviette, quickly folds it into a neat pyramid shape and says that it is time we found food because a serviette, however beautifully folded, requires a diner to give it its true meaning. For someone who is not a diner, unfolding a beautifully folded serviette could bring about a sense of regret at the loss of the shape. However, at a dinner table, careless destruction of a finely wrought serviette is the order of the day. When the baby has been sick on the Duchess, nobody cares that the serviette used to clean the venerable lady looks like a poodle. People, shouts Fatty, getting excited, don’t hesitate to crumple designs that took years to perfect and wipe the slobber from granny when her teeth fall out and she drools into the archbishop’s lemon meringue. We don’t know what Fatty is talking about, or why, so we nod and make sympathetic noises until, thankfully, Juan appears, pulling barrels of Vintage whisky that he rescued from the crashed aircraft.

Fatty tries to tell Juan that I couldn’t fold the serviette but I interrupt by reminding everyone, loudly, that we are slooshtingly behind schedule and have to leave immediately. Juan points out that we have to fortify ourselves for Hogmanay. Breaking out the Vintage Aberfeldy, Deanston, The Macallan, and Glen Eden Private Reserve, we offer toast after toast to safe landings, with or without a parachute, and salute the passing of a tremendous year. Juan inflates his bagpipes, plays ‘‘Here’s to thy Health’, ‘Why do ye Tarry’, and ‘The Rantin’ Highlandman’, at full volume and we fling each other around in circles until we notice we are being watched by a giant robot and dive for cover, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary