Because Rory has a problem with crows, we should not talk about them at all, unfortunately, we don’t seem to be able talk about anything else. George wonders where the expression ‘stone-the-crows’ comes from. Fatty tells us that a crow can be killed with a stone, then baked on stones, but, first, he warns, it must be moistened, to stop it drying out. Rory twitches, and yells that he doesn’t want to hear about stoned crows or moist crows, or anything to do with crows, and, he shouts, if anybody says one more thing about crows, he will throw himself out of the window. I tell Fatty that, out of respect to Rory’s problem, rather than referring to crows, he could choose a bird that is only vaguely related to the crow, such as the jackdaw. Fatty says that jackdaws have a unique taste, and they can be soaked in whisky and dried to make jackdaw jerky, which is very different from baked crow. Rory starts to panic and shouts that jackdaws and rooks and ravens and crows are all the same sort of bird, and it doesn’t matter whether they are baked or raw, or dry or wet, they are all disgusting, and they make him sick.
Aodhàn tells us that we are not far from the capital, as the crow flies, and, if the wind continues to blow in the right direction, we will arrive very soon. Juan says that, as soon as we get to Washington, we are invited to meet the Chief. I tell Juan that he has misunderstood the meaning of being on the Most Wanted list. Hearing us talk about something other than crows, Rory looks relieved. However, Juan says that he doesn’t mean the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, he means our old friend, the Stony Tribe chief, Chief Wet Crow. Rory starts gibbering. Fatty says that, to honour the Chief, he will serve stone-baked crow, garnished with rook jerky, decorated with raven feathers, and steeped in jackdaw blood, to keep it moist. I tell Fatty that this sounds wonderful, if a little excessive. George says that, coincidentally, he has just finished a painting of a jackdaw and he turns his canvas around to show us the painting, Juan says that it’s just another stupid bird, Fatty says that it looks flavoursome, which is what matters most. I tell George that it’s a very nice jackdaw, and Rory should not worry as a jackdaw doesn’t look anything like a crow, but, judging by the fact that Rory is shaking and sweating and gasping for breath, Rory is worried. I tell George that the jackdaw’s egg is pretty. Fatty says that jackdaw egg nog is very tasty. Rory turns green and crawls to the window to be sick.
I remind Rory that we are approaching Washington and warn him not to throw up on the White House. Rory says that he can’t see a white house. Rather than try and explain the difference between a white house and the White House, I quickly finish my bottle of Vintage Tullibardine Founder’s Reserve, fall off my stool, and crawl to the window, to see for myself. Looking down, I have to agree with Rory, there are no particularly conspicuous white houses, and I can’t see the White House either. In one way, this is unsurprising, as we are over Suiswijk, but I thought that, at least, we were in America, so am surprised that we are in the Netherlands.
I tell Aodhàn that, when he said we were approaching the capital. I assumed he meant the capital of the United States of America, because that is where we are meant to be going, but, in fact, we are closer to Amsterdam which, I admit, is a capital city, but of the wrong country. Aodhàn says that the airship’s engines will switch on as soon as they warm up, until then, we are drifting with the wind. Juan says we should stop and meet some Netherland women. I tell Juan that the term ‘Netherland woman’ is not correct. Juan says that there are Highland women in the Highlands, and Lowland women in the Lowlands, so there must be Netherland women in the Netherlands.
Fatty looks down at Suiswijk and says that it looks very boring, so the women are probably boring as well. I think this unfair and point out that Suiswijk is famous for many wonderful, exciting, things. There is a long, expectant, silence, but I do not feel obligated to recite a list of Suiswijkian wonders to ignorant people, so I change the subject by reminding everyone that we are plaintuously behind schedule, and demanding that somebody do something about it.
Aodhàn says that when the engines do start, they have automatic speed correction systems, which will make up for the time we were stuck. Albert says that, in the time we were stuck, we could have got to Washington, so we will have to travel to Washington in no time at all, which is impossible. Fatty says that Albert is right, everything takes time, but the time preparing a delicious meal, he reminds us, is time well used. Juan says that, as far as he is concerned, when it comes to food, the quicker the better, unless you have to catch the food, in which case, the slower the better. Rory says that Albert is right, to make up the time, we would have to travel at infinite speed, which is too fast for an airship. George agrees, saying that an airship is designed to drift majestically, with the serenity of an albatross; it is not meant to dart around like a twitchy swift. I defend the swift by reminding George that the swift darts around because it is catching insects, or failing to catch insects, if the insects are swifter than the swift, and, because swifts have little wings, they have to fly quickly, if they fly slowly, they stall; an albatross, on the other hand, has big wings, so it can stay in the air for a long time. It is a well-known fact that a tired albatross can go to sleep and remain in the air safely, unless it crashes into another sleeping albatross.
There is a hum and Aodhàn says that the engines have started and, if they don’t explode or melt down, we will be over Washington in no time at all. This is wonderful news, to celebrate, Juan orders Vintage Balvenie, Mortlach, Linkwood, and Tullibardine Private Reserve, we drink to the wonders of Suiswijk, offer toast after toast to the nether regions of high and low women and, singing 'Het Wilhelmus' and 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the top of our voices, we crawl around in confused, befuddled, circles, as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperink’s Diary