Professor Humperdink III

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To Cairo

Under the command of our old friend, Captain Aodhàn Macallister, from Buchanhavan, the Agent Rescue Service takes us to aunt Humperdink’s Air Station. There, Aodhàn’s team tell us that they will arrange for Fatty to be flown back to The Lion, and say that they’ll drop George and Albert off on the way. Albert says that he does not want to be dropped off, I explain that it is just a figure of speech; it does not mean that Albert will be literally dropped out of an aeroplane. I look to Aodhàn for confirmation and Aodhàn tries to reassure Albert by saying that I am absolutely right, because Albert will be standing on the wing, so, strictly speaking, he won’t actually be inside the aeroplane, this means that he will be dropped ‘from’ an aeroplane rather than ‘out’ of an aeroplane. Albert looks horrified and shouts that he doesn’t want to be dropped from, out, or off an aeroplane, Aodhàn explains that it saves time, especially when there is nowhere to land.

Juan asks why all the clocks in the Air Station are wrong. I tell him that the clocks aren’t wrong, and try to explain the concept of time zones, but I get confused and lose interest. Fatty suggests that the clocks are showing varying times because the flight times vary, George ventures that, perhaps, you have to add all the times up, divide the time by the number of clocks and get an average time, which would be more accurate than just one clock. I tell George that you would need an infinite amount of clocks to be entirely accurate, Albert says that this is nonsense, clocks only provide a measure of time and an infinite amount of clocks would give an average time of six-o-clock. This is too muddling to think about, so we ignore him and head for the bar.

After ordering Vintage Oban, Glen Spey, Clynelish and Glenturret Special Reserve and offering toast after toast to the valiant Agent Rescue Service, I tell Aodhàn that we are gomerally behind schedule and need camels. Aodhàn says that Sergeant Khan is looking after our camels, Ipy and Kauket. This is excellent news as, although Kauket is vicious, and Ipy is nippy, they are wonderful, spirited, camels and all we have to do, Aodhàn says, is to find Sergeant Khan. Juan asks Aodhàn where we can find Sergeant Khan. Aodhàn sketches a map of Egypt and tells us to turn right at Cairo. I take the giro-copter, Juan borrows one of aunt Humperdink’s experimental aircraft, we follow the Agent Rescue Service until they drop Albert off, then, cheering and whooping with excitement, we head to Cairo, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary



Lost in a forest, gouffishly behind schedule; we smell pigs in the wind. George says the smell comes from Juan, I think this is funny but Juan says that it is the smell is coming from a group of boars. I point out that we are looking for camels, so boars are no good. Fatty says that boar’s head sauce is very good. I remind Fatty that boar’s head sauce doesn’t contain boar, and I tell everyone that a group of boars is called a ‘sounder’ of boar, if they are wild. This is the only thing I know about boars, so I think it’s important and cannot understand why everyone else thinks this information is useless. Juan says that the Boar’s Head pub is wild. Fatty says that roast wild boarlets are tasty. I tell Fatty that we can’t eat any of the boars, as somebody may own them. Fatty says that, in that case, they are not wild. George points to one boar and says that it looks a bit wild. I say that this is probably because it knows Fatty wants to eat its children. Fatty hands me a diagram of a folded serviette and a serviette and says that some people think a serviette folded into the shape of a boar’s head compliments roast boar but, in fact, duplication of the meal is too obvious, and merely demonstrates a want of culture, a lazy attitude, a paltry imagination, a lack of subtlety, and contempt for the aesthetic sensibilities of the refined diner. Far better, expands Fatty, to fold a serviette slipper, it is simple, he says, it’s pleasing, and augments rather than imitates the meal. As we are waiting for a wild boar to charge at us, I think that a lecture on serviette folding entirely inappropriate but, looking at the diagram, I can’t help but remark that it does look simple. George shouts that the boar is charging and we all dive for cover.

After a while, I get bored and, to give myself something to do for a few minutes, I fold the serviette. Nineteen hours later and my slipper looks horrible, I explain at great length that, obviously, the diagram is wrong but Fatty quickly folds a smart looking slipper and says that I need more practise. This is very irritating but, before I can respond by telling Fatty that nobody in the world cares about serviettes, folded or not, our attention is diverted by the sound of an aircraft and, following the sound, we find the Agent Rescue Service has arrived with a giro-copter. This is a wonderful sight and, to celebrate, Juan breaks open barrels of Vintage Cragganmore, Lochnagar, Interleven, and Knockdhu Private Reserve, we offer toast after toast to our rescuers, drink to the wildness of boars, and dance around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary

Boar’s Head Sauce

Ingredients: Half a pint of dissolved red-currant jelly, quarter of a pint of port wine, four oranges, three lumps of sugar, one finely-chopped shallot, one mustardspoonful of mixed mustard, pepper.

Method: Shred the rind of two oranges into very fine strips, ad rub the lumps of sugar over the rinds of the remaining two. Put the rind and sugar into the liquid jelly, add the wine, shallot, mustard, and a liberal seasoning of pepper, and use as required, or the sauce may be put into well-corked bottles and stored for use.


Leaving Gordon

We have a wonderful time with Gordon’s Cavalry unit, but, as I explain to Gordon, we are meant to be in India and, loorachishly behind schedule, we have to leave immediately. Gordon thanks us for the horses but asks us to take them with us, as they need watering, feeding and cleaning, which is a bother. I tell him that we will be happy to take the horses. Juan breaks out the Balblair, Knockando, Speyburn, and Glenlossie Private Reserve, for a farewell drink, and we offer toast after toast to Gordon and wish him the best of luck in his magazine’s advertising campaigns.

After a few drinks, Fatty starts lecturing us on the importance of a properly folded serviette, the complications that can arise, and the attention and care that should go into every crease. To illustrate some point, Fatty shoves a diagram in front of me, saying that it is the instructions for folding a simple cockscomb. I think that Fatty must have gone completely insane but, to humour him, I tell Fatty that it is a very nice cockscomb, and it does look simple. Fatty says that is simple, that is it’s beauty, but it has hidden complexities, which bring it feeling and life, there’s an internal dynamic to be maintained, he says, too little can result in a collapsing cockscomb, a sorry sight which will bring the diner’s spirits down, too much, there can be unfortunate consequences and, certainly, he tells us, the cockscomb folded with a structural tension such that it suddenly unfolded, sprang across the table, landed in a bowl, flapped like a chicken with fleas and covered the Queen with mulberry jelly was very unfortunate.

I suggest to Fatty that, perhaps, he is making too much of serviette folding, after all, I tell him, it is just an easy, quick, way to make serviettes look nice. To demonstrate this, I pick up a serviette and tell Fatty that it doesn’t take any real skill to fold a cockscomb; in fact, it is such an easy thing to do that it is actually quite relaxing, and it only takes a few seconds. Seventeen hours later and I’m coming apart with fury. Whatever I do to the stupid thing, my serviette will not resemble the picture in the diagram and, although I spend a lot of time complaining that the diagram is wrong, Fatty says that I just need more practise and, glancing at the diagram, he quickly folds a finely formed cockscomb. This is very irritating, so I sulk until I’m bored, then, wanting attention, I fire my blunderbuss at a recruit.

Unfortunately, the noise of the shot and the screaming of the recruit scares the horses and they run away. Gordon tells me that it doesn’t matter, as thirsty, hungry, dirty horses do not reflect well on the Cavalry. Juan says that, as we’ve lost the horses, we had better find an alternative means of transport, preferably something that won’t run away. I suggest that camels would be a good option because camels like deserts and, as we are nowhere near a desert, they won’t have anywhere to run. Fatty, George and Albert aren’t sure about this, but Juan, who loves camels, says this is a wonderful idea and, to celebrate, he breaks open the Vintage Tomintoul, Dalwhinnie, Fettercairn, and Glencadam Special Reserve and, after saluting Gordon and drinking to the bravery of all Cavaliers, we inflate out bagpipes, then, playing ‘Young Jocky’, ‘A Steed, a Steed’, and ‘I had a Horse’, at full volume, we gallop around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


We get real horses

We have a lot of fun racing about and fighting on the wooden horses, but, when I tell Gordon that real horses would be better, Gordon looks doubtful. Juan asks when the horses are going to arrive; Gordon says that the horses haven’t arrived because he hasn’t ordered any. Albert asks Gordon why he hasn’t ordered the horses. Gordon says that real horses are bothersome and inconvenient; compared to wooden horses, he says, real horses are expensive and need a lot of attention, also, he adds, real horses are high and, if you fell off one, you could hurt yourself, but you can’t fall off a horse that isn’t there. I tell Gordon that this is an unusual attitude for someone in command of a cavalry unit. Gordon tells us that not having horses is actually an advantage, for example, he says, although attending the International Horse Show without horses made the actual events somewhat tedious, the show was very profitable. Juan asks Gordon how he made the horse show profitable, if he didn’t have any horses. Gordon explains that as they didn’t have to waste time looking after horses, they were able to concentrate on modelling the latest range of military and sporting wear, promoting the businesses who advertise in Gordon’s Cavalry magazine.

While admiring Gordon’s business sense, I think that he has underestimated the usefulness of horses to a Cavalry unit. Juan agrees and suggests that we buy some horses to demonstrate to Gordon the effectiveness of lance and sword thrusts from the back of real horses. This is a good idea but, as we are pellishly behind schedule and don’t have time to buy horses, Juan and I borrow some horses from a nearby farm. I tell Gordon to choose some recruits and volunteer them to be targets, then, after quickly fortifying ourselves with Vintage Duftown, Craigellachie, Tamdhu, and Glen Garioch Private Reserve, we jump on the horses and charge around, yelling with excitement, thrusting, lunging, cutting and slashing, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary


Gordon’s horses

Fatty throws beer over me, to wake me up, and tells me to pay attention. Seeing Juan, asleep on the ground beside me, I kick him awake, tell him to pay attention to Fatty, and lapse back into unconsciousness. After only a few seconds, Juan pokes me in the ribs with a broken bottle and tells me that Fatty is talking about serviettes and he can’t stand it. George and Albert are sitting near by, looking glazed. I imagine that this is because they have been listening to Fatty, but George mumbles something about being rescued. I tell him that that is a good idea and that he should contact the Agency Rescue Service. Albert says that we have already been rescued. I missed it, George says, because I knocked myself cold when I fell off a pub roof. I can’t remember any of this so I ask George what I was doing on a roof. Albert says that I fell on the roof from a tree. I ask them what I was doing in a tree. George says that I fell on the tree from a balloon. I ask why I was in a balloon, Albert says that I was trying to get on to the pub roof with a balloon, I consider asking more questions but decide not to bother. However, one thing puzzles me; the last thing I remember was hiding from a giant robot, which has vanished.

Juan, who doesn’t look to be in peak condition, groans and reminds me that, when we saw the robot, we hid behind a thorn bush, then, with nothing else to do, we started the New Year’s celebrations by drinking Vintage Auchroisk, Balmenach, Laphroaig, and Glenlivet Special Reserve, to honour the spirit of the season and to wish everyone a creative and peaceful New Year. Then, invigorated with fine single-malt, we decide to destroy the robot. We rushed wildly toward the monstrosity, but the bush got in the way and, by the time we ripped ourselves free, Albert has discovered that the robot isn’t a robot, it’s just a piece of projecting apparatus. Juan asked what it’s projecting from, Albert say that it’s not projecting from anything, it projects images of stars. Juan asks what use that is, and he wants to know if it will project pictures of women, I tell him that, if it was a cloudy day, and you were lost, you could project stars onto the clouds and use them to navigate, which you couldn’t do with women. Albert explained that this wouldn’t work because, if we were lost, we wouldn’t know what stars we could see, if we could see the stars. George says that this was too complicated for anyone to understand, so we ignored Albert, decided to take the projector with us, to help us navigate to a pub, and, to celebrate a good decision, and not being attacked by a giant robot, Juan broke out the Brackla, Caperdonich, Glen Keith, and Glenfiddich Private Reserve, which he keeps for such occasions, and, with some difficulty, we made our way to a pub.

Juan says that he can’t remember very much about the pub. Fatty says that Juan was knocked unconscious after head-butting a wall, because it wouldn’t get out of his way. They carried us from pub to pub, Albert says, but we only ever woke up long enough to start a brawl and we had to be knocked out again. According to George, the wonderful people that we met and the fantastic fun that we had, more than made up for the fights that got out of control, our firework display, that went terribly wrong, the pubs we burnt to the ground, the fire engine we crashed, the police station that we demolished, the town’s population who we terrified, and having to be rescued by the Agent Rescue Service. This all sounds very memorable but, irritated, I tell everybody that they might have had a lot of fun but, as I was unconscious, I’m not interested in their stupid stories. I also remind them that we are peistishly behind schedule and have to move on immediately. George says that we need transport, but he doesn’t want to fly any more. Albert says that, in one pub, he met our old friend, Captain Gordon McClellan, who said that he is setting up a cavalry unit nearby and, if we want any help, we should call in and see him. George says that we should borrow some horses off Gordon. This is a good idea and we set off immediately.

The projector doesn’t help us navigate, and it's heavy to carry; it takes us days to find Gordon’s unit. When we arrive, Gordon says that he will be happy to lend us some horses. Fatty says that he will need a big horse, but Gordon says that he has a horse that will carry two people so it should be able to carry Fatty. I tell Gordon that we need fast horses; again, Gordon reassures us that his horses are very fast, especially the ones that have wheels. When Gordon shows us his horses I point out that they are wooden horses. Gordon says that we will have to make do as it is a new unit and the real horses haven’t arrived yet. This isn’t a perfect solution to our transport problems but, as George points out, the horses will not need feeding and they won’t get tired. I agree, adding that it would be ungracious to decline Gordon’s generous offer, so, to celebrate, Juan breaks out his Special Reserve, we offer toast after toast to Gordon’s new cavalry unit, then leaping on the horses and, yelling “gee up” and “charge”, we wheel around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary