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11.1.11

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